UT Wraps Up ‘Renewed’ Governor’s School for Sciences

KNOXVILLE — The Governor’s School for the Sciences at the University of Tennessee — cancelled last year due to budget woes — is back in fine form this year, the program’s director said Wednesday.

Dr. Jeffrey Kovac, UT chemistry professor and director of the Governor’s School for the Sciences since 1994, said the four-week program has been able to take up where it left off in 2001.

“With only a one-year hiatus, the programs did not have to be completely reinvented,” Kovac said. “If we had waited another year or longer, much of the institutional memory would have been lost.”

“Like any ongoing program, much of what makes the Governor-s Schools special is passed on through an oral tradition.”

Governor’s schools in the sciences, humanities, arts and other fields were started in 1985, held annually until 2002, then cancelled due to state budget constraints. They were restored in 2003.

This year’s resurrected School for the Sciences at UT ends Saturday with an 11 a.m. closing ceremony in the University Center Auditorium.

More than 2,000 high school students have attended the Governor-s School for the Sciences at UT, Kovac said, with more than 600 applicants each year.

While the program has resumed its standard of excellence after a year off, the number of students invited has dropped from 150 in 1994 to about 90 because of increased costs of room, board, tuition, and materials.

The annual budget of $261,000, which covers all students’ expenses, has not changed since 1994, Kovac said.

Students take three core courses on using computers, writing, and thinking scientifically. They also study one of five specialty courses taught by UT faculty: chemistry, engineering, mathematics, molecular biology, and physics.

Evening classes focus on ethical questions in science and medicine and other areas of scientific research.

Recreational activities include intramural sports competitions, team and individual sports, quiz bowls, checkers, card games and other activities. Students also enjoy pool parties, pizza dinners, dances, movies, coffee house visits and other social activities.

This week, the program hosted a college fair with recruiters and admissions officials from 42 colleges attending.

“The young people who attend the Governor-s Schools are the leaders of tomorrow,” Kovac said. “They emerge from the four-week experience with new knowledge, skills, intellectual and personal maturity, and self-confidence.

“I have seen the remarkable effects in the Governor-s School alumni that I have taught at UT and in the students who have gone to college elsewhere. They are an amazing group.”