Plenary Speaker Profile (1998-99)
Robert Watson
Division Director (retired)
NSF Division of Undergraduate Education
Higher Education and the Reform of Mathematics and Science Education

Reform in undergraduate education is increasingly the subject of discussion and action across the country. The National Science Foundation released a report, Shaping the Future: New Expectations for Undergraduate Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Technology Education, which identifies accomplishments, challenges, and needs for students, faculty, institutions, industry, the public, and other sectors concerned with undergraduate education. The report contains recommendations to all of these sectors which have contributed to the significant momentum for change now occurring in higher education.

In this interactive session the report and national changes in undergraduate education will be discussed, and NSF plans resulting from the report will be presented. Participants will be invited to suggest their own candidates for the most significant improvements and the greatest challenges to undergraduate education

To prepare for the session, participants may wish to review the report and related subsequent activities available from NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education(DUE) at, by phoning 703.306.1666, or by e-mail to The DUE guide to programs may also be obtained these ways.

Dr. Robert Watson served with the National Science Foundation from 1968 until 1999, with program and division-level management responsibilities in graduate, undergraduate, and precollege science, mathematics, and engineering education. During 1983, Watson served in the White House Science Advisor's Office (OSTP) where he developed a plan for the Federal role in science education that was approved by the Congress and served as the basis for the regeneration of NSF education programming. From 1963 to 1968, he was on the chemistry faculty at Memphis State University. In 1966, Watson became the first individual to receive an NSF grant focusing on the improvement of education for minorities.