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A Conversation with Dr. Frank Neubrander on STEM Leadership

Headshot of Dr. Frank Neubrander

Dr. Frank Neubrander is the Executive Director and Chair of the Louisiana State University (LSU) Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy (Cain Center), the only triple-endowed chair in Louisiana.  Dr. Neubrander began his LSU journey in 1989 as a math professor.  His insights into grant development, leadership dynamics, and community engagement have shaped the Cain Center's trajectory over the last 20+ years. In an interview to record his experiences, Dr. Neubrander explores effective STEM leadership and the role it plays in shaping the future of STEM education.

Dr. Neubrander's journey shows his dedication to adapting to changes in the STEM education landscape and the associated evolving leadership requirements. Dr. Neubrander believes in going beyond traditional academic boundaries by focusing on understanding people to make collaborative decisions. "Empathy is not just a soft skill; it's a strategic necessity," Dr. Neubrander notes. "You need empathy to come to an agreement; understanding what makes people tick is crucial."

Dr. Neubrander emphasizes the need for constant justification and adaptability, stating the importance of navigating "the delicate balance between academic excellence and the administrative intricacies of executive stewardship.” Dr. Neubrander highlights the dynamic nature of educational leadership, where adaptability is crucial. Expanding on this, Dr. Neubrander articulates that "adaptability, passion for education, and commitment to continual excellence are crucial for future STEM educators and leaders." These principles outline a practical approach to educational leadership.

To adapt to the changes in priorities in STEM education, funding programs, workshops, and ideas is critical. Dr. Neubrander's insights into the intricacies of grant development and contract negotiations reveal a nuanced perspective, stating "grants are not just financial instruments; they signify a commitment to professional growth of the team and community enrichment." This perspective emerges from Dr. Neubrander’s depth of experience, having navigated through over 99 grants since his first NSF grant in 1986.  These grants, contracts, and self-generated funds have brought forth programs such as the Micro-credentialling of Teachers, STEM workshops for K-16 teachers, Dual Enrollment, LSU STEM Pathways courses, and most recently, certifications of university and high school students to flourish.

Dr. Neubrander offers a roadmap for aspiring STEM professionals, outlining the value of grants, importance of effective leadership, and commitment to community impact. Under his leadership, the Cain Center displays the transformative power of effective STEM leadership, inspiring a future where STEM education goes beyond boundaries, with purpose and community impact at its core. Learn more about the Cain Center for STEM Literacy programs here.

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