Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM


SHUSTER, Robert D., Geography/Geology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, 6001 Dodge Street, Omaha, NE 68182-0199,

The Geology program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha is part of a combined Department of Geography/Geology. The program itself is relatively young (approximately 30 years old) and has never had more than four full-time faculty. In the past, the program has suffered from low numbers of declared Geology majors and low graduation rates. This triggered an extensive review of the Program by University Administrators and the State of Nebraska Coordinating Commission For Post-Secondary Education. In response to this, our Program developed an action plan to raise the number of majors and degrees granted.

At UNO, very few incoming freshmen declare Geology as a major. There are several reasons for this, but the primary one is that after the 8th grade, very few students in our region receive any more education in Earth Sciences, so the possibility of majoring in Geology is not foremost on their minds. Because of this, we recruit almost all of our majors from our introductory Geology classes. A special presentation was developed to be delivered early and late in the semester in these introductory classes to show students what geologists do, what types of activities they are involved in, and what job opportunities exist and forecasts for employment in the near future. We have also improved our academic advising of majors, taking a more proactive approach to advising. The program also developed three tracks within the Geology major, a graduate track, an industry track, and a Liberal Arts track to give students more flexibility in designing their course of study.

At the same time that we were initiating the above activities, three faculty members received research grants that included funding for involving undergraduates in field and laboratory research. These grants have been used to support the participation of well over 20 students in our research. The students involved included both declared majors and freshmen and sophomores who were exploring the possibility of majoring in Geology (recruited from introductory classes).

These and other efforts have led to an increase in the number of majors in our program and have also led to an increase in the number of students graduating from our program. This presentation will document action steps taken, the results, and future plans for sustaining our current success.