PLYMOUTH — Plymouth State University dedicated its new "Open Laboratory" Monday in honor of long-time New Hampshire Executive Councilor Ray Burton, a 1962 graduate of what was then Plymouth Teachers College, who was remembered by all those who spoke as a dedicated public servant with a special allegiance to the North Country.
Located in Lamson Learning Commons, the lab offers students, faculty, community and business partners a technologically advanced space to collaborate and learn and is an important milestone in the university's transformation to an integrated clusters learning model.
"Integrated clusters allow us to provide the type of education, beginning at the freshman level, that integrates the learning process in such a way as to create opportunities to interact with our communities," said Donald L. Birx, PSU president. "Using open laboratories, we can work across disciplines and with community members to solve problems and challenges that give students insights into how education is relevant to the needs of the world."
He said that Burton, who provided 40 years of public service to the North Country as an Executive Councilor and Grafton County Commissioner, was a "role model for public service,"' and that it was fitting that the open lab should be named for him.
Governor Maggie Hassan said that Burton, who died on Nov. 12, 2013, at the age of 74, was one of the most dedicated and caring public servants the state has ever known and that his "unwavering commitment to service made our democracy and our state stronger."
Burton's long-time friend, Duane Baxter, chairman of the Raymond S. Burton Legacy Fund, and Reta Presby, who along with her husband, Wayne, own the Cog Railway and formerly owned the Mount Washington Hotel, donated $250,000 to establish what will be known as The Raymond S. Burton '62 Open Laboratory.
Baxter said that Burton was "a truly selfless public servant who believed in the power and value of practical experience. And he loved Plymouth State."
In June the university announced a multi-year reorganization plan that it said will prepare students for an active role in the revitalization of the region's economy. "Currently the University has 24 undergraduate academic departments organized under three colleges (Arts and Sciences, Business Administration and Education, Health and Human Services) and a graduate studies program for master's and doctoral students. The new structure is based on an integrated liberal arts education that gives the students the ability to think critically and link across multiple disciplines. It will be organized into seven interdisciplinary academic clusters, and feature open labs and collaborative partnerships with community and industry to provide students with integrated learning, research, and service opportunities."
Unlike the traditional program framework at most colleges, this new model focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship, will create opportunities for Plymouth State University students, faculty and community partners to work together on real-world challenges and projects.
"The landscape of public higher education is changing, and in addition to traditional degrees, employers seek graduates who can collaborate to solve problems, develop products, think innovatively and lead their organizations," said Birx. "Over the next few years, Plymouth State will evolve as an integrative university where students have significant opportunities to work with regional industry partners, and gain exposure to multiple disciplines."
The University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees voted unanimously to support the strategic vision and infuse $10.6 million of USNH internal borrowing funds.
Beginning in September of 2017, all degree programs at Plymouth State University will be organized within the following academic clusters:
Arts and Technology
Education, Democracy and Social Change
Exploration and Discovery
Health and Human Enrichment
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Justice and Security
Tourism, Environment and Sustainable Development
A significant feature of this new model is the concept of open labs. Open labs will place students and faculty in teams with community and business leaders on projects to create innovations and new discoveries. Plymouth State has a strong tradition of partnerships that will be enhanced by the new vision and open labs.
"For years, Plymouth State University has partnered with local businesses to involve students in real-life environments," said Robyn Parker, dean and faculty member in the current College of Business Administration and cluster development leader. "For example, each year a group of students works with the Common Man restaurant to develop new ice cream flavors. Students from various disciplines work in teams to research, design marketing materials, create business plans, manage budgets, develop and test their products, and introduce their ice cream flavors." Going forward, all Plymouth State students will have opportunities to participate in projects such as this.
Students will graduate from Plymouth State University with traditional undergraduate and graduate degrees, but once this model is implemented, students will also be able to earn certificates in various specialty areas within each cluster.
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 346