From concept to physical reality, Dr. Norris was essential to the creation of the Life Sciences Institute (LSI), a state-of-the art facility and program that partners Baltimore City Community College with the University of Maryland Baltimore, a world-class research institution. The LSI was established in the university’s west Baltimore BioPark, where neighboring tenants include more than a dozen cutting edge commercial biotech enterprises. In LSI classrooms and laboratories, BCCC students learn in close proximity to top-notch university and private industry researchers, a combination of academic and ‘real-world’ work experience that has not been attempted before in this fashion. Dr. Norris has also established and currently maintains close ties with schools, churches and community associations to inform Baltimore residents of local job opportunities in the life sciences and allied health fields.
As a result of Dr. Norris’s innovative strategies, an array of students have been placed in paid internships and full-time jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) clusters at the BioPark over the last two years. This reflects Dr. Norris’s success in portraying STEM-related subjects as fascinating fields of study – and as jobs that are in high demand. The number of students registered in LSI programs over the last two years has increased by 23 percent and the number of awarded degrees and certificates in LSI programs over the same period has increased by 42 percent.