This past May, The Patuxent Partnership, a local nonprofit organization which works with government, industry, and academia on initiatives in science and technology, contributed $1 million to grow and expand the physics department, including applied physics, at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. This investment will be used over the next six to eight years to develop curriculum, increase the number of physics majors, hire a new faculty member, expand labs, and develop new co-operative and internship programs.
“We are grateful for The Patuxent Partnership’s investment that so directly supports the public mission and academic rigor of St. Mary’s College of Maryland,” said President Joseph Urgo. “The establishment of an applied physics program will provide new and unique opportunities for our campus, and a gateway to a world in need of individuals who have cultivated their capacity to think, to discern, and to respond to issues with creativity and passion.”
With The Patuxent Partnership’s $1 million investment – and the signing of the Educational Partnership Agreement between the college, NAWCAD and The Patuxent Partnership in October 2011 – the college is poised to develop and become one of the few undergraduate liberal arts colleges in the country with an applied physics program.
Bonnie Green, executive director of The Patuxent Partnership, has been a strong advocate for developing this initiative as a way of fulfilling St. Mary’s promise as the state’s honors college, and addressing the region’s need for scientifically-trained professionals. Green said, “The Partnership’s mission is to support STEM education, the Navy and the contractor community, and to foster related research opportunities. This investment will develop and strengthen the knowledge base in our region while strengthening the relationship between St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, and applied physics research.”
“The leadership commitment from Green and Board of Director’s President, Karen Garner, is emblematic of our institutional priorities: embracing our public mission and academic rigor, meeting the immediate needs that are central to our faculty and liberal arts curriculum, and providing transformative opportunities for students,” said Maureen Silva, St. Mary’s vice president for advancement. “The mutual benefit that stems from sharing talent and resources will have a huge impact on the region as well.”
The investment will nearly double the number of physics graduates from St. Mary’s College to twelve, which would propel the college to the top five percent of four-year colleges in the country that graduate the highest number of physics majors.