Two Penfield College Professors Selected to Serve on APLU Network of STEM Education Centers Committees

Dr. Charles Roberts and Dr. Zipangani Vokhiwa

ATLANTA/MACON – Penfield College of Mercer University faculty members Dr. Charles Roberts, associate professor of mathematics, and Dr. Zipangani Vokhiwa, associate professor of science, were recently selected to serve on two Association of Public Land Grant Universities’ (APLU) Network of STEM Education Centers (NSEC) committees.

Dr. Roberts will serve a two-year term on the NSEC Steering Committee, and Dr. Vokhiwa will serve a two-year term on the NSEC Conference Planning Committee.

To advance education in STEM (science, technology, education and mathematics) fields, APLU obtained a National Science Foundation grant to create a national Network of STEM Education Centers. NSEC currently links 201 STEM education centers at 163 institutions.

NSEC committees, including the Steering Committee and Conference Planning Committee, provide support to the STEM education centers to promote student success throughout campuses and in local committees.

“We are honored to have Charles and Zipangani work with us,” said Dr. Kacy Redd, assistant vice president of science and mathematics education policy and APLU co-director for NSEC.

“We are finding that university STEM education centers often serve as hubs of campus-based efforts to transform undergraduate STEM education, improve the quality of math and science teacher preparation, and increase the success of research grants by attending to broader impacts,” added Dr. Noah Finkelstein, professor of physics and co-director for STEM learning at the University of Colorado Boulder and APLU co-director for NSEC.

Dr. Roberts, who graduated from Mercer’s College of Liberal Arts in 1969, has research interests related to the teaching and learning of mathematics, with a focus on instructional delivery in the support of students’ overall development as learners and successful students in the campus environment.

He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Michigan State University, where he also taught and received an outstanding faculty award. His dissertation research was on “Academic Development and Performance Enhancement among Minority Students Enrolled in Mathematics and Science Based Curriculum Programs at Post-Secondary Institutions.”

Dr. Vokhiwa completed a three-year study in agriculture at the University of Malawi and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal sciences at Colorado State University. He worked as a livestock officer for the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Malawi from 1975-1992. His doctoral dissertation was on ecological disturbance, as he investigated “Carbon and Nitrogen Dynamics in Protected and Grazed Short-Grass Steppe in South-Eastern Colorado.”

He served as deputy director of environmental affairs in Malawi and was a member of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. After retiring from government service in Malawi, he joined the faculty at Kennesaw State University before coming to Mercer in 2007.

Dr. Vokhiwa served as principal investigator for a Fulbright Hays Group Projects Abroad grant awarded to Mercer by the U.S. Department of Education in 2012. He led a team of 10 teachers and two administrators from Metro Atlanta on a four-week trip to Malawi to collect data for a research project, titled “The Interaction of Environment and Culture in Malawi.” He also led students on three Mercer On Mission trips to Malawi in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

He recently completed a term as president of the Fulbright Association’s Georgia Chapter.

For more information on NSEC, visit

About Penfield College

Mercer University’s Penfield College, established as the College of Continuing and Professional Studies in 2003, is committed to serving post-traditional learners. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Penfield’s programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary experiences that integrate theory and practice. In addition to providing general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer, Penfield offers degree programs in areas including technology, public safety, public and human services, leadership and administration, healthcare and liberal arts. Programs are offered on Mercer’s campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as Regional Academic Centers in Douglas County and Henry County, and online. To learn more, visit