In 1998 CSU received a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical
institute. With the $1.5 million received, the Center for Life
Sciences was created.
The Center for Life Sciences was a department on campus headed
by Tom Gorell, an emeritus biology professor, to serve multiple
advising services to students in the sciences, undergraduate
research programs and K-12 outreach programs.
This year when students came looking for help from the Center
for Life Sciences, they were directed to the Center for Advising
and Student Achievement. CASA was formed this year as a merger
between the Center for Life Sciences, The HELP/Success Center and
Undergraduate Student Retention.
Even after the merger, Gorell retained not only the Center for
Life Sciences department but also his title of director.
Gorell said CSU allowed this so that he could finish out the
last dollars of the grant while performing services that were not
adopted by CASA. These services included the K-12 Outreach Programs
and the Hughes Undergraduate Research Scholars.
These two programs are used as recruiting tools by CSU to show
its programs to K-12 students around the country, as well as offer
the Hughes Research Scholars program as an enticement to students
interested in the life sciences.
But these programs may not be around much longer, due to lack of
Diane Burton, assistant director of CASA and formerly assistant
director of the Center for Life Sciences, showed concern for the
“We lost some teachers through the merger who had made a lot of
connections with schools,” Burton said. “And because the grant
money is almost out and the faculty here is stretched so thin, I
don’t know who is going to step forward.”
Alan Tucker, the vice provost for Faculty Affairs who has worked
closely with Gorell and the merger, said he did not know if the
programs would have enough funding to finish out the semester.
“Five years ago we started with about $1.5 million,” Gorell
said. “Now we’re down to about $10,000 to run the programs to see
where we’re at.”
Though the programs seem to be coming to their culmination, both
Gorell and Tucker see potential to continue outside of the grant
and the Center for Life Sciences.
A committee has been created that will address the outreach
programs to schools similar to what the Center for Life Sciences
“There are a lot of departments around CSU other than the life
science that do these programs, and sometimes end up crossing
paths,” Tucker said. “Hopefully when this committee is done, we
will be able to help the programs collaborate and generally make
them more efficient.”
Gorell, who now has his offices near the Center for Science,
Math and Technology Education said he is confident that someone in
or around the department will help pick up where the grant left
“We really just don’t want to lose a successful program,” Tucker
said. “When you are faced with challenges sometimes you have to
look at them as opportunities.”