Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

March 5, 1998

House hearing focuses on non-budget issues

HARRISBURG — Pitt and two of its neighbors — Schenley High School and Milliones Middle School — have joined forces to seek funding for a new program aimed at encouraging local young people to pursue careers in the health sciences.

Testifying before the state House of Representatives appropriations committee yesterday, Chancellor Mark Nordenberg said the program "would take advantage of emerging new opportunities in the health sciences, both to train people better in the sciences and to provide them with incentives to invest their time in that training, knowing that there would likely be attractive jobs available down the road." Nordenberg cited the program as an example of Pitt's commitment to improving math and science education at the pre-college level. Nationally, he said, the University's Learning Research and Development Center is a leader in creating standards and systems for assessing math and science education.

The chancellor described those efforts in response to Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, who had asked what Pitt was doing to improve math and science literacy among public school children. Evans cited the results of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, which showed American 12th graders near the bottom of the industrialized world in math and science literacy.

Nordenberg recalled , "If you were in school in the late 50s and early 60s and you were reasonably good at science, you were really pushed in science as well as math. It was an area of strength for the country then. Clearly, that's not the case today." Evans asked, hypothetically, whether Pitt would consider assuming administration of some local high schools and/or elementary schools, in a hands-on experiment to improve pre-college math/science education.

"To this point," Nordenberg replied, "our efforts and our planning have focused more on partnerships than on taking over. But I think we would be interested in considering any ways that we could constructively help." Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, complained that too many students are pushed to earn four-year college degrees of doubtful value in the job market, while the country faces a projected shortfall in skilled labor.

Nordenberg said DeLuca "really put his finger on an interesting problem," adding: "I'm not sure that our high schools are doing as good a job as they should to make students aware of the good, productive, satisfying work opportunities that might be available with some kind of training beyond high school, but not necessarily a four-year degree." The chancellor said Pitt advisers have begun offering career counseling to students soon after they enroll, to make sure students are preparing for existing job opportunities.

Also during yesterday's hearing (which was held to discuss Pitt's $158.5 million state appropriation request for the fiscal year that begins July 1), Nordenberg reiterated that Pitt intends to hike in-state tuition next fall by less than last year's 4.5 percent increase.

— Bruce Steele

Leave a Reply