WORCESTER, Mass. – Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) announced today that, following a national search, Stephen J. Lemire has been hired as the first executive director of the National Professional Science Master's Association (NPSMA). Headquartered at WPI, NPSMA promotes and supports professional science master's degree programs at universities across the nation. Lemire has also been named a distinguished academic visitor in WPI’s Mathematical Sciences Department.
NPSMA was established earlier this fall with a $500,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, awarded to a group of universities led by WPI. Bogdan Vernescu, professor and head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences Department, is principal investigator for the grant and the association’s first president.
Professional science master's (PSM) are designed as terminal degrees for students in the sciences who plan to work in professional positions in industry, rather than in academia. More than 100 such programs have been established at over 50 universities since 1997 with support from the Sloan Foundation. (WPI's PSM programs in financial and industrial mathematics were launched in 2000.)
These are typically two-year programs that emphasize course work, but that also require a collaborative research project and an internship in the business or the public sector. The programs combine rigorous graduate study in science or mathematics with the development of business skills to prepare graduates who feel as comfortable in a professional setting as they do in the lab.
“My most immediate goal,” Lemire said, “is to get the word out to potential employers about the value of these degree programs, and in particular, the value of the graduates. These men and women not only have technical expertise, they have business training. We call it ‘science plus.’ These degree programs all incorporate a business component that includes an internship. This unusual combination of abilities can be especially valuable to employers seeking to compete in the technology-driven global marketplace.”
As NPSMA executive director, Lemire says his mission also includes helping to raise awareness of the PSM degree among the general public and potential students, helping promote the creation of new PSM programs at universities around the nation, and developing best practices and educational metrics that can help strengthen existing programs and guide the development of new programs.
Lemire brings to his new position 20 years of experience leading nonprofit membership organizations, particularly those focused on health, health policy reform, and workforce development. He was most recently executive director of the Massachusetts Health Officers Association, which provides education and advocacy programs for local public health officials. He also previously held the position of executive director of the Massachusetts Business Group on Health.
Currently a senior instructor in the Healthcare Management program at Cambridge College, Lemire also has more than a decade of experience in adult graduate education. He has served on national committees for the National Association of County and City Health Officials and the National Business Coalition on Health and has written several articles on the development of professional membership societies. He holds BS and MS degrees in health services administration from the University of Lowell (now the University of Massachusetts Lowell).