2010 ENE Outstanding Alumni Awards

Howard J. Gobstein


Executive Officer   Vice President, Research, Innovation and STEM Education Co-Director, Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative

Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities

A NATIVE OF NEW YORK CITY who grew up near Cleveland, Ohio, Howard J. Gobstein pursued engineering for his undergraduate degree because, as his father put it, “engineering teaches you how to think.” Gobstein enrolled at Purdue just as the university offered an innovative new program: Inter- disciplinary Engineering (IDE). Initially interested in an integration of engineering and environmental science, he switched to technology and public policy, graduating in 1974 as one of IDE’s first alumni.
After earning an M.A. in science, technology, and public policy from George Washington University, Gobstein spent more than a decade with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, where he led evaluations of government science programs and policies.
“I remember the incredible feeling I had as a freshman at Purdue—that the world was in front of me, that there was so much I could do and gain. I tried to experience it all.”
In the late 1980s, Gobstein joined the University of Michigan as Director of Federal Relations for Research, moving in the 1990s to the Association of American Universities (AAU), where he served as Vice President and Senior Program Officer. In that role, he rebuilt AAU’s Council of Federal Relations into a dynamic advocacy group. Next, during the Clinton Administration, Gobstein joined the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, as Senior Policy Analyst. Among other assignments, he worked with the Office of Management and Budget and university leaders to negotiate federal research costing issues.
In 1995, Gobstein joined Michigan State University (MSU) as Associate Vice President and Director of Federal Relations. Among a number of achievements, he created and directed MSU’s Washington Office; co-created the MSU Semester in Washington; and coordinated the establishment of the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa, a non- governmental organization.
Gobstein left MSU in 2006 to join the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, where he is Executive Officer and Vice President, Research, Innovation and STEM Education. He also initiated and co-directs the Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative, a movement of 121 public research universities, including 11 university systems, addressing the shortage of well-qualified science and math teachers in the U.S.
“The U.S. can’t afford to fall behind other nations in terms of educational attainment and science and mathematics literacy across the public, if we are to maintain any degree of economic security and address the challenges we face—global change, energy, food, health.”
A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Gobstein has recently joined the advisory board of INSPIRE, Purdue’s Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning.