2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
Paper No. 97-12
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM

RECRUITING, RETAINING, AND GRADUATING DIVERSE GEOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE STUDENTS AT A LARGE URBAN UNIVERSITY

LEMKE, Lawrence D., Department of Geology, Wayne State University, 0224 Old Main, 4841 Cass, Detroit, MI 48202, ldlemke@wayne.edu and VAN HEES, Edmond H., Geology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201

Wayne State University, located in Detroit, Michigan, serves more than 32,000 students and is one of the principle U.S. institutions for higher education of minority students. Approximately 34% of Wayne State undergraduate students are from underrepresented groups (predominantly African-American) and 58% of our undergraduates are female. Despite WSU’s diverse student body, sustained recruiting and retention strategies are needed to attract and maintain diverse student participation in its Earth Science programs.

Following the establishment of a new B.S. in Environmental Science degree program in December 2003, a multifaceted program to attract and retain Geology and Environmental Science students was instituted. Recruiting efforts include bulletin boards highlighting student diversity and field trip activities, annual career nights at which recent alumni describe their career experiences, classroom presentations in introductory (gen. ed.) classes to help students picture themselves as Earth scientists, and personal invitations to students who demonstrate an aptitude for geoscience. Retention efforts focus on the creation of a supportive learning community in which students have opportunities to participate in field trips, informal social events, supplemental instruction, and undergraduate research. Our experience suggests that providing individual attention is one of the most important keys to successful recruitment and retention for all students.

Since the inception of our concerted recruiting program in early 2004, the combined number of undergraduate Geology and Environmental Science majors enrolled at WSU has risen from 11 to more than 100 at present, with 66 undergraduate degrees awarded along the way. Currently, undergraduate enrollment is split almost equally between Geology and Environmental Science. Approximately 25% of our undergraduates are minority students and a little more than 50% are female. We face many continuing challenges including: (1) maintaining individual student attention as enrollments increase, (2) meeting the needs of part time students who must balance educational, financial, and family responsibilities, (3) encouraging students to complete their degrees, and (4) assisting students who disappear from the program without warning or explanation.

2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 97--Booth# 64
Geoscience Education (Posters) II
Minneapolis Convention Center: Hall C
9:00 AM-6:00 PM, Monday, 10 October 2011

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 5, p. 254

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