Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM
NEW UNDERGRADUATE GEOSCIENCE PROGRAM AT ANGELO STATE UNIVERSITY: WHAT WE ARE LEARNING AFTER THREE YEARS
So far we have learned that doing mostly what we like to do in geology, involving students, persistence, and utilizing regional resources can produce a thriving geology program. Angelo State University (ASU), enrollment 6149, first offered an Earth Science Minor in 2005 and a Geoscience Major in 2010. Number of majors has grown from 27 (2/2011) to 75 (8/2013). Our department also offers an exceptional undergraduate Physics program; 135 students major in Physics (8/2013). Twelve students have graduated with a Geoscience BS; 10 are now in graduate schools. Program goals are to prepare students for graduate school work in diverse fields, to prepare students to pass the ASBOG Fundamentals of Geology Exam, and to attract Hispanic and first-generation college students to major in Geoscience (57% of San Angelo Independent School District students are Hispanic). ASU BS Geoscience degree requires 10 hours of Calculus and 4 – 8 hours of calculus-based Physics. Three full-time faculty conduct research in structural geology, petrology, hydrogeology, contaminate hydrology, groundwater systems modeling, volcanology, seismology, and geophysics. Two part-time faculty teach planetary geology and geomorphology.
Several non-site-specific factors contribute to program success. Faculty teach lab sections, small introductory course lecture sections, advise undergraduate research, and recruit majors. Providing lab space for students to work, supporting an active student organization, and including students in community outreach foster a family atmosphere. Faculty collaborate with the San Angelo Geological Society, USGS San Angelo office, Upper Colorado River Authority, San Angelo Independent School District, Sul Ross State University, and Texas Tech University.
Our West Texas location also contributes to program success. We visit the Big Bend region, Eastern Shelf of Permian basin, Llano uplift, and Edwards Plateau on weekend field trips. Many Angelo State students are from ranching and farming families and are used to outside work. Good relationships with ranchers allow access to little-seen geology. ASU offers the sole undergraduate-only geoscience program in West Texas. Current challenges include larger classes, few female majors, students poorly prepared for college, and heavy teaching loads (16 contact hours).