Holy Cross College is making a move forward into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education by adding majors in biology and computer science. Last year, the college also added an educational track in pre-engineering through collaboration with Saint Mary’s College and Purdue University Polytechnic Institute. In October 2016, these new majors were approved by the Higher Learning Commission, and became available to current and incoming students immediately.
Right now, the science program is working out of an updated older building. Over the summer, the college worked with the University of Notre Dame to create space for STEM at Holy Cross by demolishing most of the old Saint Joseph High School building at the edge of campus. The remaining portion of the building, renamed the Saint Joseph Art and Science Building, contains science labs, classrooms, gathering areas, and faculty offices. However, the college plans to add a state-of-the-art science facility in the near future. Holy Cross recently received a $3.5 million challenge grant for a new science building from a northern Indiana foundation (who wishes to remain unnamed at this time). The college plans to raise the match by the end of 2018 as part of the college’s $15 million Ascend Campaign.
With STEM jobs growing at a rate nearly twice that of other fields, Holy Cross is responding to the demand in the marketplace. According to the US Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, growth in STEM career fields has outstripped non-STEM ones, and is projected to continue increasing. For a traditionally liberal arts college like Holy Cross, this trend represents an exciting challenge. “The liberal arts curriculum is essential to providing a comprehensive educational background,” explains Br. John Paige, president of Holy Cross College. “But we also want to provide a broader scope of detail in terms of what majors and tracks are available.”
The natural science division faculty worked to create the new majors with deference to Holy Cross’s mission to educate both the hearts and minds of its students. Like all education tracks at Holy Cross, the new majors and take a holistic approach to education, incorporating internship, research, and service aspects.
The biology program is helmed by Lynne Csiszar-Cary, Ph.D., who is also the Chair of the Natural Sciences Division at Holy Cross. Csiszar-Cary was a research scientist for Miles Laboratories/Bayer, a director of product development for American Biogenetic Sciences, and an associate professor of Biochemistry for 13 years at Bethel College. Her leadership of science at Holy Cross is grounded in a blend of classroom, research, and internship experiences. “I encourage my students to connect their learning with practical application,” says Csiszar-Cary. Her goal is to help students find their personal career calling. “I believe supporting students with mentoring and career advising is critical for maximizing success in medical school, post-graduate programs and science careers.”
Computer science is led by Robert Minvielle, Ph.D. His work in computer science varies from owning an operating a consumer electronics design firm to architecting data center operations and computing resources in a 3-D visualization research facility. His eclectic experience in higher education and as a computer science professional will allow Dr. Minvielle to connect major goals with students’ interests by challenging students’ intellectual creativity. “I hope to bring a new empowerment to students of science at Holy Cross,” says Minvielle. “We teach methods and pathways to overcome any obstacles so that our students might go out into the world, solve, and create.”
The Michiana community will benefit from this expansion of Holy Cross College’s science facilities and programs. Holy Cross students are required to complete a professional internship and to participate in service learning opportunities in the area, and these additional science majors will expand the pool of highly motivated interns and volunteers for area businesses. With South Bend now listed as one of 10 worldwide cities “reinventing themselves through technology” (Smart+Connect Communities Institute), many of these science graduates may choose to “stay local.” This will further support projects funded by the $42 million investment from the Regional Cities Initiative (Indiana Economic Development Corporation Initiative), part of the North Central Indiana Regional Development Plan.
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Holy Cross Science in the News