With the previous worry of the KSC geology program going “extinct,” future students may now be faced with that reality for a few years, but not just in that program alone.
As of Oct. 24, the geology program (major and minor), the earth and space science program for secondary school teaching (major), the master of education graduate program in school counseling and the post-master’s certification program in school counseling have been labeled “under administrative review.”
For the geology and the earth and space science program, the KSC website states, “Effective 10/24/16 This program is under administrative review. There will be no admission to the program for newly admitted students (i.e. 2017SP) while on administrative hold.”
For the master’s program in education for school counseling, the KSC website states the same message, but there will be no admission to the program for both current and prospective students while the program is on administrative hold.
All current students, however, will finish out in both programs.
Why was the hold placed in geology?
In an article published by The Equinox on Oct. 6 titled “KSC puts a dent in geology program,” the geology program was described as being one of concern when looking at student enrollment numbers and full-time faculty members who teach within the major.
KSC Provost William Seigh said the conversation about the geology program itself has been going on for quite some time, especially in terms of how the program can best serve KSC students now and in the future.
“I think the program has an opportunity to become stronger, to become whatever it needs to become to best serve our students. So I think that in the case of geology and also in the case of the graduate programs, we’re on administrative hold; we’re looking at the programs, evaluating what kind of curriculum will best serve our students and what faculty we may want to hire if we need to hire and then when we’ll be able to hire. So we’re kind of looking at, in both of these cases, what’s going to be the best way to serve our students,” Seigh explained.
Dean of the School of Sciences and Social Sciences Dr. Gordon Leversee said there are a few reasons for the hold.
“The hold is just that we had seen a history of very low enrollments and low interest of incoming students, one or two or three a year…but geology has consistently had the smallest number of declared majors of students that graduate,” he said. Leversee continued and said,“We’ve had retirement of one of our senior faculty a year ago and our other remaining senior faculty is approaching retirement…but we just felt it was time to say to [incoming] students…[that they] should come understanding that at this time of transition and change, we’re not going to open the opportunity for you to declare the major.”
Leversee said geology students who are currently at KSC will confidently be served over the next four years as they graduate, but he doesn’t want to have new students come in until they are clearer about where they want to go in the future.
What will the hold do for the program?
In terms of what the hold means for the program, Seigh said it allows the deans and faculty members time to talk about how the program wants to evolve.
“I don’t know if any changes and, if so, what changes would happen in the curriculum in either program. I think that what the administrative hold does is it gives us time; it gives the faculty, the deans and the associate deans and so on in the sciences [time] to have an opportunity to sit down and talk about what does a geology program want to look like at our college in the next few years?”
According to Seigh, the realization of the geology program needing more focused attention largely came from discussions with Dean Leversee about staffing within the program.
Seigh said, “There have been retirements, there will be retirements and when there are retirements, there’s a tremendous time for us to sort of step back and…say, ‘Okay, so this is where we are today. Where do we want to be down the road?’ So I can’t help but believe that retirement or potential retirements plays a part in the necessity or the opportunity to ask a question.”
Do budget cuts have an impact?
The campus-wide budget cuts are not a leading factor in placing the administrative holds, but Seigh said at the moment, the college is not hiring as many faculty as they have in the past with retirements.
He said, “My hope would be that as faculty we’re retiring, with or without a budget constraint, that we would still take the time and say, ‘What’s the best choice for this program now?’”
Before the decision for the administrative holds was made official, Seigh said he went to the college senate to share his intentions with the group.
He said there was “some significant discussion” about what this would mean and why it was occurring, but Seigh emphasized that “we were focusing on serving the needs of the students in the best way possible.”
The future of the geology program
In the future, Leversee said there will be geology at KSC, whether it’s called geology or potentially placed under a new umbrella such as earth sciences or geosciences.
“There’s some obvious overlap in student’s interest, in faculty interest and ability in geography and [the] environmental studies program in particular,” he said.
“That’s a conversation that faculty will need to be having and that takes a while, maybe probably a year to have a conversation and then assuming that goes well and supposedly comes through and approved in our curriculum process and then it’s implemented.
So it could be a couple years probably before we’d see a new version of the geology program,” Leversee said.
Geology Professor Dr. Steven Bill stated he wants to make it very clear to students that those admitted under the 2016-17 catalog year and prior to that will be allowed to declare geology as a major or minor, as well as earth and space science as a major.
He said the college will work to make sure students get all the necessary courses they need.
In terms of the hold for incoming students, Bill stated in an e-mail that himself and other geology faculty members are very disappointed in the decision and hope to have further conversations with the administration about the matter.
Senior geology student Andrew Michaud stated in an e-mail that he wasn’t “particularly happy with [the decision],” but at this point feels they need to wait for further meetings with the provost for more information.
Although the website states the earth and space science program is on administrative hold, KSC Provost William Seigh said, “The administrative hold in geology is an administrative hold in geology major and minor, not earth sciences, not the other programs, it’s just the major in geology and the minor in geology [that] are on administrative hold for entering students.”
Dean Leversee said the two programs overlap 50 to 60 percent and the earth and space science program was placed on hold for similar reasons the geology major was.
Jessica Ricard can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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