Chemistry Professor Jeffrey Kovac has been honored for his contributions to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education by serving as director of the Tennessee Governor’s Schools for Sciences and Engineering and the Tennessee Science Olympiad State Tournament.
Theresa Lee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, recently presented Kovac with a plaque on behalf of the college.
Kovac directed the Governor’s Schools from 1994 to 2012. He headed up the Science Olympiad from 2008 to 2012.
“Jeff’s leadership of these programs has produced remarkable outcomes and touched many students,” Lee said. “At a time when improving STEM education has become both a state and national priority, Jeff has been a leader at both the college and university level, and through these two important initiatives for pre-college students.”
As director of the Governor’s School for the Sciences and Engineering, Kovac designed curriculum and activities for 100 to 150 of Tennessee’s best and brightest students each year. He recruited instructors and taught at least one seminar himself.
“His steadfast commitment to educational excellence, passionate advocacy for pre-collegiate education, skillful negotiation, and documentation of student success enabled the university to obtain nearly $4.5 million and contracts to sponsor the program and provided a high-quality academic educational experience for more than 2,000 talented Tennessee high school students,” Lee said.
Science Olympiad is a one-day event introduces about 1,000 middle and high school students to science and engineering through competitive events. As director, Kovac recruited and trained dozens of event coordinators and more than fifty student volunteers. He also took a leadership role on the event’s board of directors to try to increase statewide participation in the event.
Kovac has been at UT since 1976. He has a bachelor’s degree from Reed College, a doctorate from Yale University, and two years of postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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