Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM
WHAT'S WORKED FOR US: PARTNERSHIPS BUILD A STRONG UNDERGRADUATE DEPARTMENT AT A RESEARCH-INTENSIVE UNIVERSITY
Strong geoscience departments arise from partnerships among various stakeholders: students, alumni, friends, administrators and faculty. Such partnerships develop over time and are built upon several factors. Most importantly, judicious recruitment, mentoring and retention of faculty who share a common purpose of building a strong, student-centered department are necessary. Among other things, these partners will not allow the curriculum to stagnate, and will advance curricular innovations through formal and informal assessments, and through the open exchange and discussion of pedagogical ideas and goals. Likewise, faculty will endeavor to instill in students a sense of community by providing them with various teaching, research, field, and leadership opportunities. These may include extensive field trips, opportunities to assist in teaching courses, and a variety of research options, both in courses and as independent projects. These opportunities, in fact, make students partners in the department as well. Students ultimately become alumni, who then may partner with the department through continued communication and interactions; such ties may be as simple as reading a newsletter and responding to a questionnaire or may be as involved as returning to campus to share experiences with and mentor current students. Maintaining and enhancing the visibility of faculty, student and alumni successes is paramount in maintaining a strong department, for such visibility ultimately comes to the attention of administrators, who themselves are partners (or perhaps more correctly, investors) in departments via their financial support. Finally, strong departments with active faculty, successful students, and a record of visible successes come to the attention of other groups, both internal and external to the university. This attention provides opportunities to forge additional partnerships and strengthen the department even further.