Northrop Grumman Provides $1 Million Grant to Support Mason’s VISTA Program Promoting Improved STEM Education

Posted: May 14, 2012 at 9:05 pm, Last Updated: July 31, 2012 at 10:37 am

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Left to right: Lynn Gilmore, Director of Corporate Citizenship, Northrop Grumman Corporation; Larry Wilder, Special Assistant, Governor’s Office, Commonwealth of Virginia; Mark Ginsberg, Dean of Mason’s College of Education and Human Development; Donna Sterling, Principal Investigator, VISTA, and Professor of Science, CEHD; Mike Papay, Vice President, Cyber Initiatives, Northrop Grumman Corporation; Jimmy Hazel, GMU Foundation Board of Trustees, JD `84; Jim Duffey, Secretary of Technology, Commonwealth of Virginia; Michele Toth, Vice President, Human Resources and Administration, Northrop Grumman Corporation

Fairfax, Va. — In support of George Mason University’s efforts to promote innovative and effective teaching and learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Northrop Grumman has awarded $1 million in funds over a four-year period to support the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA).

“With this generous gift from Northrop Grumman, we are better able to help put the Commonwealth of Virginia at the forefront of addressing the STEM workforce challenge by effectively preparing and motivating K-12 students early in their academic preparation so that they will excel in the STEM fields,” says Mark Ginsberg, dean of Mason’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD). “With Northrop Grumman’s leadership support, we have the ability to increase interest in science early on that will help address a serious workforce problem facing our nation.”

From Northrop Grumman, Michele Toth, vice president of Human Resources and Administration; Michael Papay, vice president of Cyber Initiatives; and Lynn Gilmore, director of Corporate Citizenship, presented the gift to Mason President Alan G. Merten; Ginsberg; Donna R. Sterling, director of the VISTA program; and Marc Broderick, vice president of University Development and Alumni Affairs.

“As a major technology employer in Virginia, we are proud to support this initiative,” says Linda Mills, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Information Systems.  “Northrop Grumman is committed to advancing STEM and reversing the trend of declining student interest in this discipline.  VISTA is an innovative way of making science and math fascinating to elementary school children, thus inspiring a new generation of high-tech professionals to fill the critical shortage we face as a nation.  We look forward to working with Mason and VISTA to get teachers and students from across Virginia, particularly those in high-need schools, excited about STEM.”

The funds will be used to support 200 elementary teachers participating in the program over the next four years.  The grant will provide a portion of the teachers’ stipend and enable them to participate in a four-week elementary and professional development science institute; receive a year of “in-class coaching” from a VISTA-trained coach; attend the statewide Virginia Association of Science Teachers conference; and receive in-class and online science materials and resources.

Throughout the summer institute, teachers will learn best practices on science content from top science educators, learn how to teach using “problem-based” methods, practice the new techniques on elementary students from high-need (high-poverty, high-minority) schools and plan curriculum for the upcoming school year.

The five-year VISTA program focuses on high-need schools to improve science teaching and student learning throughout Virginia. VISTA is dedicated to professional development and research in science for elementary teachers and secondary teachers; science coordinators; and university science education faculty. In addition, VISTA will expand upon and validate prior research and active-learning programs conducted within CEHD and Mason’s Center for Restructuring Education in Science and Technology (CREST) over the past 15 years.

The project is a partnership that includes 47 Virginia school districts, six universities and the Virginia Department of Education. University partners are the College of William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and James Madison University. The project primarily is funded by a $28.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the Investing in Innovation (i3) program with additional corporate and private support.

Northrop Grumman and its Foundation support diverse and sustainable programs for students and teachers. These programs create innovative education experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. For more information, visit or

About George Mason University

George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country.  Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in education, engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university. George Mason University—Where Innovation Is Tradition.


Write to Colleen Kearney Rich at

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