Krauses make $6.5M gift to support innovation in College of Education

University Park, Pa. -- Gay and Bill Krause of Los Altos Hills, Calif., are shaping the future of innovation in education with a $6.5 million gift to establish and support the Krause Innovation Studio in Penn State's College of Education. It is the largest gift in the college's history.

“For nearly a century, Penn State has been a pioneer in preparing and supporting teachers, administrators, researchers, and other leaders in the field of education, and the Krauses’ support will help us to lead the way in the next century,” said Penn State President Graham Spanier. “The Krause Innovation Studio will be a flagship program for both the College of Education and the University, bringing together the expertise and enthusiasm of our faculty and students with the technologies that will change teaching and learning in the years ahead.”

The nascent Krause Innovation Studio will generate and share knowledge about innovative teaching practice designed around emerging technological tools. It will be a physical and intellectual space where educational leaders from around the world can innovate and investigate teaching practice with a focus on the application of technology.

"When we were approached by Dean Monk regarding the possibility of the College of Education laying the groundwork for an innovation studio, we were immediately interested. Here is a program that will draw upon the power of emerging technologies to transform teaching and learning throughout educational systems," Gay said.

Gay, a former teacher and school administrator, received her bachelor of science degree in K-12 elementary and special education from Penn State. She is director of the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif.

Bill has been a Silicon Valley executive since the early 1970s. As president and CEO of 3Com, Bill guided the data networking company from a venture capital-funded start-up to a publically-traded, multinational enterprise with assets in excess of $1 billion when he retired. He now is president of the private investment firm LWK Ventures.

"We believe education of our next generation of young people is at the heart of four critical issues facing our country," Bill said. "A better educated next generation gives us a better chance for peace in the world; it is critical to ensuring we maintain our principles of a democratic and free nation; it gives us a better chance for an improved economy; and it gives us a better chance for improving our environment. Given this impact that education has on society, it was clear to us that improving education of our young people is where we wanted to invest our philanthropic dollars."

"The early ideas for an innovation studio emerged from the college’s strategic planning process," said David Monk, dean of the College of Education. "The Krauses showed immediate interest and helped us to refine the vision to the point where it will now become a reality. We are enormously grateful for their insights, energy, and willingness to create and support the studio.”

Gay said, "Based on my background as a K-12 teacher, counselor, and principal at the middle school level, I was concerned about the lack of quality professional development opportunities, including my own credential coursework to become a middle school principal. Today our educational system is not what it could or should be; thus, we must lead the way for innovation in education."

The College of Education's Innovation Studio is a resource for faculty and teachers at the postsecondary, secondary, and elementary school levels, as well as educators working in informal learning settings like museums and the workplace.

Starting with teaching practice and drawing upon the power of emerging technologies to transform teaching and learning, the Krause Innovation Studio is an incubator for innovative technology-supported pedagogy that allows educators to address the needs of an increasingly diverse and geographically dispersed student population. It encourages teachers and researchers to examine their assumptions about education and technology and imagine new possibilities for bringing them together.

"One way to think about the impact of technology in education is to look at something we take for granted, like chalkboards," said Scott McDonald, associate professor of science education and director of the Krause Innovation Studio. "Back when chalkboards were cutting-edge technology -- and I assure you there was a time -- they were put into classrooms as the new thing, but chalkboards support a particular type of interaction in classrooms.

“The large scale implementation of chalkboards, without first considering the interactions schools were trying to support, led to supporting lecture as a norm in our schools all the way to present day. Without the chalkboard 'scale-up' at the turn of the century, what would our schools look like today? This example seems emblematic of a tools/technology first approach to improving teaching. We know a lot more about how people learn than we did 100 years ago, so it is time to take that into consideration before taking advantage of Web 2.0 or any other emerging technology in class."

A commitment to the effective use of technology to improve teaching and learning is becoming a signature of the College of Education at Penn State, said Monk. "We are only scratching the surface in terms of what will be happening in the future, and the Penn State College of Education will be an international leader thanks to the work of the Krause Innovation Studio."

Gay noted, "True innovation in education is difficult to achieve due to the expansive current educational system and lack of adequate funding and common high standards for our students, as well as our educators who are teaching primarily as they were taught. We look forward to the National Education Technology Plan, whose professional development vision is to have professional learning that is collaborative, coherent and continuous. We believe that Penn State's College of Education will be a leader in implementing that vision."

"We have been very fortunate to have achieved some degree of success in our careers," added Bill. "Having done well we are now able to do good, and as such we have many opportunities for our philanthropic endeavors. We have chosen to focus on improving the education of our next generation of young people."

Under McDonald's direction the culture, mission and philosophy of the Krause Innovation Studio are in place within the college; the physical space, which will be located on the second floor of the Chambers Building on the University Park campus, is in the design phase. Construction is targeted to begin in the summer of 2011.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010