Carole Slesnick and a group of friends, family and colleagues have donated $105,000 to Western's College of Sciences and Technology in memory of her late husband Irwin "Sles" Slesnick. Dr. Slesnick retired in 1996 after a 33-year career on Western's biology faculty. This gift will provide permanent support for the Science, Math and Technology Education (SMATE) department at Western.
The SMATE Learning Resource Center itself will be dedicated and renamed the "Irwin L. Slesnick STEM Education Resource Center" during a ceremony later this month. One of the ways the annual funds created from this endowed gift will be used is to support an annual science education symposium. National and international leaders in the sciences and science education will be invited to campus to interact with Western students and faculty, local K-12 teachers, and the Bellingham community.
"Even though I never had the opportunity to work with 'Sles', I have heard nothing but great things about him and the tremendous impact he made in the lives of students. We're very grateful for this gift in his memory, because it will help the SMATE program indefinitely," said Jeff Wright, dean of the College of Sciences and Technology.
The Learning Resource Center is a special library in the SMATE building, which contains more than 15,000 books on science standards, assessment, curriculum, and activities for current and future teachers. In addition, it houses a collection of other resources including computers, lenses, microscopes, globes and maps and a myriad of other science-related tools, all available for student and teacher use.
"Dr. Slesnick was an extraordinary teacher, a prolific author, and international advocate for science education," said Ed Geary, director of SMATE. "During his 33 years in the biology department, he profoundly impacted thousands of students and future science teachers. His vision and tireless advocacy for improving science education played a critical role in gaining approval for constructing the Science Education Building and influenced its unique design." Slesnick was instrumental in the establishment of the current SMATE program housed in the building that continues the work he started.
After Slesnick’s retirement, Joe Morse directed the SMATE program for a few years. When Morse stepped down in 2001, former NASA Astronaut George "Pinky" Nelson took the helm until 2012. Geary was hired as the new director late last year.