Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM


SROGI, LeeAnn, Department of Geology/Astronomy, West Chester University, West Chester, PA 19383 and HELMKE, Martin F., Department of Geology and Astronomy, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, 207 Merion Science Center, West Chester, PA 19383,

The Department of Geology & Astronomy at West Chester University can be considered a thriving department based on: a stable complement of 12 tenured/tenure-track faculty; enrollments that have exceeded the national median for 15 years and doubled in the last 5 years; and a reputation for innovation and quality that has been growing for 20 years.

We benefit from being part of West Chester University (WCU), a fiscally-strong and growing member of 14 regional, comprehensive universities in the PA State System. A high concentration of environmental firms and school districts in the region employ our B.S. Geoscience and B.S.Ed. Earth-Space Science graduates. Offering a secondary science teaching degree requires faculty in astronomy, meteorology, and oceanography; this disciplinary diversity supports a variety of courses and student research opportunities, expands our reputation beyond the geosciences, and enhances our collective creativity and problem-solving. One of our loyal alumni (a professor emerita) has helped to strengthen our reputation with the administration and our funding for department research and programs.

We have built on these strengths. We express our student-centered philosophy by, for example, putting the student room and computer lab at the center of our floor. We strive to know our student audience and have aligned curricula with NSTA teaching competencies, professional licensure criteria, and national norms. A common core of 10 undergraduate geoscience courses builds academic community and competence. Our recently-modified Master’s program has a professional focus that helps students with or without a geoscience background transition to careers or Ph.D. programs. Department faculty teach courses for non-science and education majors which makes us valuable to larger University constituencies. We support department faculty to pursue their passion for research, innovative pedagogies, and/or community outreach. We actively contribute to the University mission, through initiatives such as service-learning, program assessment, and recruiting/retaining diverse faculty. We continue to struggle to attract first-semester majors and to improve our visibility as one of the smallest departments within WCU. Strategies that have succeeded so far will help us meet future challenges.