The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi—the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines—today announced Texas State University as the 2020 recipient of its Excellence in Innovation Award. The $100,000 award, given biennially, recognizes Texas State for achievement in helping increase the interest of STEM careers for students in K-12 through their NASA Future Aerospace Engineers and Mathematicians Academy.
“Phi Kappa Phi is proud to recognize Texas State University for its highly innovative project in STEM education and bilingual community outreach,” said Society Executive Director Dr. Mary Todd. “The jury was impressed with the comprehensive nature of FAMA and its mission to underserved students, a fine example of the creative and groundbreaking programming our Excellence in Innovation Award was designed to honor and uplift.”
Established in 2013, FAMA is a hallmark program of the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research at Texas State University. The program provides integrated year-round STEM programming to economically disadvantaged and historically underrepresented student populations by engaging them in relevant STEM experiences with a focus on NASA contexts.
Since its launch the FAMA project has expanded to included four main programs: STEM Saturday and Summer Camps, the NASA Backpack Program, Technology-Rich Environments and Experiences, and Bilingual Family Community Outreach. Through these programs FAMA has served and enriched STEM experiences for more than 5,600 students.
Texas State, on behalf of its efforts through FAMA, was selected as the 2020 recipient of the Excellence in Innovation Award by a jury of emeritus university presidents during a two-part screening process. The university was first chosen as one of six semifinalists before advancing as one of three finalists. The pool of entries represented inventive, multifaceted projects at institutions across the United States. Each institution was assessed on its project’s ability to achieve meaningful, measurable outcomes to create systemic large-scale change.
“As a proud member of Phi Kappa Phi, it is a great honor to be chosen as the winner of the Excellence in Innovation Award,” said university President Denise Trauth. “We deeply value our NASA Future Aerospace Engineers and Mathematicians Academy as it advances STEM education and research. It is a great tribute to our hard-working faculty and staff that the Academy has gained this recognition.”
Since 1932, Phi Kappa Phi has awarded fellowships and grants to members and students on its chapter campuses. Nearly $1 million is awarded each year through programs that last year recognized over 350 individuals. The Excellence in Innovation Award, first awarded in 2016, is the Society’s only award for institutions.
The call for submissions for the 2022 Excellence in Innovation Award will open in the fall of 2021. For more details and to view the finalist portfolios, visit www.phikappaphi.org/innovation.
About Phi Kappa Phi
Founded in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Phi Kappa Phi inducts approximately 30,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni annually. The Society has chapters on more than 300 select colleges and universities in the United States and the Philippines. Membership is by invitation only to the top 10 percent of seniors and graduate students and 7.5 percent of juniors. Faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction also qualify. The Society’s mission is “To recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and engage the community of scholars in service to others.” For more information, visit www.PhiKappaPhi.org.