UGA College of Education Associate Dean Padilla to Receive National Award for Distinguished Service

ATHENS, Ga. – Michael J. Padilla, associate dean for educator partnerships at the University of Georgia’s College of Education, will receive the 2003 Distinguished Service to Science Education Award from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) at its annual conference in Philadelphia March 28-30.

Padilla, who has been a national leader and scholar in science education for the past 25 years, was a major contributor to the National Science Education Standards sponsored and released by the National Academy of Sciences in 1996. He was the primary writer of both the teaching and professional development components of the standards.

One of Padilla’s most outstanding accomplishments has been his ability to promote important science and teacher education programs by obtaining external funds. He has initiated numerous innovations by attracting more than $29 million in highly competitive grants – more external funding than any other education faculty member in UGA’s history.

All of these grants addressed critical areas of need – science, mathematics and teacher education – and involved collaboration among faculty from K-12 schools and various colleges at UGA. Most of the grants also involved other Georgia universities and business interests. All of them concentrated on improving curriculum and teaching, both at the K-12 and university levels.

In the early 1990s, the National Science Foundation created its Statewide Systemic Initiatives program, aimed at reforming entire state systems of mathematics and science education. Padilla assembled a team of important stakeholders from throughout Georgia and, over an 18-month period, fashioned a statewide consensus for the direction of the effort. As a result, the NSF awarded a $10 million grant to UGA, titled the Georgia Initiative in Mathematics and Science (GIMS).

In recent years, Padilla’s efforts have grown to include teacher education encompassing all disciplines.

* The Business to Teaching program, which emphasizes online and field courses, is intended to help alleviate the teacher shortage in Georgia by attracting qualified career-changing professionals into the field. ($2.4 million grant from state of Georgia)

* The Georgia Systemic Teacher Education Program (GSTEP), which is reinventing teacher education at UGA by defining the experience of the “beginning teacher” as a seamless, six-year process from entry into college through the second year of teaching. ($9.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education and state funds)

* The UGA Center for Hispanic Educational Advancement will facilitate community-based efforts to increase the academic achievement of Hispanic children in Georgia schools and is a response to the 400 percent increase in Georgia’s Hispanic population. ($3.5 million from The Goizueta Foundation)

As a culmination of years of research and writing, Padilla has become the lead author on a middle grades science textbook series, Prentice Hall’s Science Explorer, which emphasizes an inquiry approach with a user-friendly format. It has been adopted by more school districts than any other program during the last three years.

Padilla, who received his Ph.D. in science education from Michigan State, joined the UGA faculty in 1978. He has been recognized as Aderhold Distinguished Professor in the College of Education and received a Walter B. Hill Award for Distinguished Achievement in Public Service and Outreach.