Comments and Questions from Listening Session with Bruce

Geology Comments

Historical concern regarding the grad program.  Not all depts. have grad programs and feel that they have to do all of the work on overload. With the current budget situation, please don’t make us like Eastern. 

Our undergrads are inspired by our graduate students and are often encouraged to go on to the grad program.  Undergrads and grads are often in the same 300 – 400 level class and that raises the level of the class for the undergrad.  We get a lot of our grad students from out of state so it is a good mix.  Undergrads get a good opportunity to see how research works.  Undergrads come to the graduate’s presentation and see the process of research.  This experience helps with the quality of their experience.

4 research awards have been won by this department in the past 4 years. 

One concern with regards to graduate issue, if we come to a university wide decision as to the future of our graduate programs, it may not be appropriate for our particular program.  One size fits all does not work in the university environment and we must not reduce grad programs to the lowest common denominator.

In the last two weeks, 5 inquiries all from out of state.  This is one of the departments that makes Western nationally known.

Our graduate program is well poised for help affect the economy.  Our graduates are the future especially with regards to climate change, natural resource jobs. 

Must not cut our TAs.  If you cut our TAs you cut our graduate program.  Need clear graduate mission from the university.  We have been working hard to improve the opportunities of our TAs.  They are the lowest paid TAs in the university.  Our grad students are nationally sought out by employers.  Our students (undergrad and grad) have the best field experience in the state.

Underscore that we have the best undergrad program in the state.  We get a lot of solicitations from students from other universities looking to transfer.  Students who leave often contact the university after graduation to comment that we have provided them an excellent education.

Graduates of the programs are in demand and are contributing to the state economy.  How do we make the public aware of these important contributions? 

Geology is just as important as Huxley in making a difference with regard to environmental issues.  Let’s get the word out there of the impact our grads are making.

University sponsored major meeting – hosted the Geological Society of North America.  We could not have done that if we were an undergrad program only.  Our undergrads were able to have the experience of presenting because we are a draw due to our grad program. 

Scholarly productivity – the balance between teaching and research is a very challenging one.  We need to hear from the university as to what the balance is.  Right now it is about 100% teaching and 10% research.  Important that we don’t go to one size fits all. 

We have always emphasized the undergraduate teaching in this department.  Research keeps us current but we need the time to keep current.

Lack of dedicated technical support in the department.

There is so much competition for University funding – how do we get political scientists to decide that geology is important? 

50% of the students of Western take their lab science in Geology.  We have one of the largest 101 courses in the country.  This makes it important to keep our TAs.  If the GURs require 2 lab science courses, something will need to be done about that requirement if we loose TAs, 

We have one limited term faculty.  He is a huge contributor to our program.  If we lost this position, we would be hurt enormously.  We also need our 4 staff and could not run it without them. 

The football program is a huge budget sink.  There are a couple hundred students that care about football but there are 12,000 that don’t. 

Sabbatical program – there are a lot of sabbaticals that are not very good that get funded.  Would rather see staff preserved and have fewer sabbaticals funded.  The state has a quota for sabbaticals.  But, we don’t get additional funding for sabbaticals.

With regard to the budget, the focus must be on the core academic mission. 

Across the board cuts do not recognize the core mission.

When will we hear from the state about the budget?

Difficult challenge with early registration – we have to set up our classes now and we don’t know what our staffing will be.

Went through two bad budget cycles in the past 35 years.  In the 70’s it was done on a department level.  Do you know what the mechanism will be for cuts? 

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Page Updated 11.27.2013