Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM
DECLINE, RESTORATION, AND DEMISE OF THE GEOLOGY PROGRAM AT ST. JOSEPH'S COLLEGE, INDIANA – A PERSPECTIVE ON PROGRAM VIABILITY FROM A SMALL SCHOOL
Geology programs which have declined and have been terminated provide important lessons on program viability to existing weak and fledgling geology programs. St. Joseph's College (SJC), a private, 900-student college in northwest Indiana, had one of the largest undergraduate geology enrollments in its home state during the 1950-60s. In 1969 SJC replaced its traditional general education curriculum with its unique and highly integrated Core program. Under Core, all students took a two-semester, integrated physical, earth and life science course during junior year and were no longer required to take any other science course. Consequently, geology enrollments dropped off precipitously at SJC during the 1970s, a time when geology enrollments elsewhere were generally booming. Faculty retiring in the 1970-80s were not replaced and so, by the early 1990s, the program consisted of one semi-retired professor and poorly-enrolled group-majors' in chemistry-geology and biology-geology. The efforts of new biology and mathematics faculty hired in 1992 marked a restoration of geology at SJC, as they began work toward establishing an interdisciplinary environmental science major program. A large grant in 1998 allowed the official establishment of the environmental science program as well as the hire of a new geology faculty member. This individual left after one year and I was hired as his replacement. With my input, we structured the program with distinct concentration areas in environmental geology, ecology, and education. Despite very positive feedback from our students (and eventually our alumni), and vigorous recruiting efforts over the next few years, the program failed to attract a significant number of majors. In 2005 SJC eliminated the environmental science program and the only geology faculty position. I will present analysis of the restoration and final demise of geology at SJC; discuss errors we made; and provide warning for others in similar at-risk situations.