Tookers invest $4 million in ASU efforts to improve K-12 education in science, technology, engineering and math
April 14, 2008
Gary Tooker, former Motorola CEO, experienced firsthand the worldwide competition American businesses face in science and engineering. Now retired, Tooker and his wife, Diane, want to encourage and inspire youth to discover the unlimited possibilities in science, technology, engineering and math.
The Tookers have invested $4 million into Arizona State University to advance efforts to better educate K-12 students in science and math. The gift will endow five faculty positions within the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering for professors who will work to strengthen youth’s interest in science, technology, engineering and math careers.
“From my experience in the world marketplace, I’ve seen how science –and especially engineering — is actually honored and celebrated in Asian culture,” Tooker says.
“By the time American kids get to high school, it’s too late to get them excited about math, science or engineering,” he says. “Diane and I wanted to do something that combines our interests in education and engineering and might also inspire others to step forward and help support education in grade and middle schools.”
Specifically, the Tookers’ investment will further enhance:
* ASU’s ongoing partnerships with Arizona’s K-12 teachers and educational leaders to improve high school graduation rates and student success in college.
* Summer institutes and workshops for teachers.
* New approaches to teaching and curriculum content.
* Public-private partnerships between the industry and school districts.
Low numbers of college students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math is a growing national concern. Several institutions, including NASA and the National Science Foundation have developed programs to advance education in these core areas. And, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the most rapid job growth in the coming decade will be in the areas of science, engineering and health care.
Deirdre Meldrum, dean of the Fulton School of Engineering, says the Tooker gift will help transform grade school, middle school and high school teaching of science, technology, engineering and math in Arizona and throughout the nation.
Income from the Tooker endowments will allow the Fulton School to support one faculty chair and four professorships annually.
“The gift will have a huge impact because it enables ASU to recruit and retain top faculty who will dedicate their time and energy to pre-K-12 education,” Meldrum says.
“The Tooker chair and professorship holders will be nationally recognized innovators who will impact this national need year after year,” she says, “and we expect the Tooker investment to pay important dividends for Arizona and the nation for years to come.”
In addition to other duties, the Tooker professors will be part of ASU’s Center for Research on Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology (CRESMET). The center develops and researches the impact of innovative teaching methods for K-16 teachers to keep students interested in these professional areas.
The demand for a highly educated workforce with in-depth knowledge in these disciplines is critical to Arizona, says George W. Hynd, ASU senior vice provost of education and innovation and dean of the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education.
“A strong academic background in math, science and technology is rapidly becoming a necessity for all students who wish to compete successfully for jobs in today’s marketplace,” Hynd says.
Both Gary and Diane Tooker are ASU graduates. She earned a degree in early education; his is in engineering, with further studies in business administration.
Gary Tooker joined Motorola in 1962, rising to chief operating officer in 1988, president in 1990 and vice chairman and CEO in 1993. He was elected chairman of the board in 1996.
Tooker retired from Motorola at the end of 1999, remaining a company director until 2001. He has served on the Business Roundtable, the executive committee of the Council on Competitiveness and as a director of the National Alliance of Business.
Tooker has also served as a board chairman of the Semiconductor Industry Association, the American Electronics Association and the Pacific Basin Economic Council.
Tooker is on the board of directors of Avnet, Inc. and the Eaton Corporation. While providing leadership to several civic and professional organizations, he is a volunteer and advisor to the Fulton School of Engineering, which has presented him with its Excellence Award.
He has received a Distinguished Alumnus Award and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from ASU. He is a trustee of the ASU Foundation and on the board of directors of ASU�s Research Park in Tempe.
Diane Tooker has taught in Phoenix and Scottsdale schools and holds a degree in interior design.
She has run her own business Designovations since 1982 and has also worked as a realtor. She is active in several civic organizations, including A Stepping Stone Foundation and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.
She is an active ASU supporter, having helped create and run the university’s Medallion of Merit Scholarship fundraiser and served as an alumni association director. In 1999, she joined Gary as joint recipients of ASU’s James W. Creasman Award of Excellence.