With the start of the new year well under way, the Department of Physics and Astronomy was pleased to learn that it has been selected for two distinct programs run by the American Physical Society:
The January 2019 newsletter of the APS annouced the selection of KU as one of four institutions for inclusion in PhysTEC. The four new sites, Appalachian State University, Texas A&M University-Commerce, the University of Kansas, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, were picked because they are "well poised to dramatically improve their physics teacher education programs and have impacts beyond their campuses, serving as national models for program improvement." PhysTEC is a partnership between the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). Since 2001, PhysTEC has helped universities transform their physics teacher education programs into national models. The project is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, and has received significant funds from the APS's 21st Century Campaign, as well as direct and in-kind support from each of its partner institutions. The project includes two sets of institutions: PhysTEC Supported Sites (like KU) and the broader Physics Teacher Education Coalition. Supported sites develop their physics teacher preparation programs into national models by implementing a set of Key Components that project leaders have identified as critical to success in physics teacher preparation. The Coalition is a national network of institutions committed to developing and promoting excellence in physics and physical science teacher preparation.
Second, KU Physics and Astronomy has now been accepted of one of only 38 APS Bridge Partnership Institutions. The Bridge Program has as its goal the elimination of the achievement gap between undergraduate and graduate participation by underrepresented ethnic and racial minority (URM) students in physics and related physical sciences. Since the first priority is to ensure a supportive pairing between student and graduate program, the APS has established a process to approve departments that are willing to embrace, and consequently be recognized for, a set of practices used by Bridge Programs. These vetted sites are Partnership Institutions. Partnership Institutions are departments that have demonstrated that they will provide a supportive, bridge-like treatment of students. This designation allows the APS to recommend supportive programs to interested students and to help departments committed to Bridge Program principles recruit talented students to their programs.