$1 million gift to the PSU Graduate School of Education establishes the Vernier STEM Classroom
Author: PSU Foundation Communications
Posted: June 18, 2018
David and Christine Vernier

Education advocates and philanthropists Christine and David Vernier have donated $1 million to Portland State University’s Graduate School of Education to create a fully equipped STEM training classroom for PSU’s new 4th and Montgomery building, expected to open in 2020.  
“We are grateful for this generous gift in support of STEM education,” said PSU President Rahmat Shoureshi. “This philanthropic investment will create new opportunities for students to learn by doing, preparing them to lead as educators in our region.” 

The Vernier STEM Classroom will provide hands-on educational experiences for students of the Graduate School of Education. The space will be furnished with innovative learning stations, giving students a chance to practice teaching with more standard equipment such as mathematics manipulatives, chemical mixing and heat application – as well as with the latest technology. The classroom’s modular layout and moveable furniture will be designed to promote collaborative teaching and learning across all STEM disciplines.

“David and I deeply believe in the power of education to change lives,” Christine Vernier said. “We believe the surest way to inspire a love of science and math in the next generation is by investing in teachers. We’re delighted to be partnering with Portland State on this exciting project.” 

Christine and David Vernier founded Vernier Software & Technology in 1981, producing software and hardware for science classrooms across the country and around the world. 

A former high school physics and physical science teacher, David Vernier remembers struggling to keep his students engaged. Believing that highly interactive learning experiences were the solution, he developed software applications to help his students see scientific phenomena in real-time. These products became the foundation of the Verniers’ company. 

The Verniers’ commitment to supporting the construction of a learning space to train future STEM educators combines their passion for high-quality science education with the goals of the PSU Graduate School of Education’s mission to create and sustain educational environments that serve all students and address diverse needs.

“This gift makes it possible for us to build a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary STEM classroom that will serve as the premiere teaching and learning laboratory for our students and faculty for decades to come,” said Dr. Marvin Lynn, Dean of the Graduate School of Education. “The Vernier STEM classroom will ensure that Portland State University continues to remain in the forefront in the field of education.”

The Graduate School of Education was ranked among the top 100 best education graduate programs for 2019 by U.S. News & World Report. The college offers more than 50 programs including doctorate, master’s, licensure, professional development and certificates – and produces more STEM educators than any other institution in the state. 

The Vernier STEM classroom will be located in a new facility to be constructed at SW 4th and Montgomery in downtown Portland. In addition to housing the Graduate School of Education, the 200,000-square-foot building will include the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, the Portland Community College Dental Science Program and Clinic, and the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. The alliance of these high-impact schools and agencies will provide rich opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, learning and service. 

The new facility is being designed by SRG and constructed by Andersen Construction, and is expected to open in 2020. The building will be located adjacent to the Portland Streetcar and MAX train lines and will feature ground floor retail space.