Building Strong Geoscience Departments > Defining Strong Departments > Characterizing Strong Geoscience Departments > Threats

Threats Over the Next 3-5 Years

Go back to the beginning of this presentation, by Randall Richardson and Susan Beck of the University of Arizona, about the results of a national survey of geoscience departments.

Key findings:

By far the major threat for all types of institutions was declining resources and budget cuts at all levels. This included the loss of faculty FTEs by not being able to replace retiring faculty, low salaries, inadequate staff support, and space. For the 2-year, 4-year and master's granting institutions low enrollments were a common concern. For the PhD granting institutions the decline in federal research dollars was reported as a major threat and beyond the control of the department or faculty. In addition, salary compression and the high cost of housing relative to the salaries were also concerns. There were numerous comments about the perception of geosciences as an outdated science hurting geoscience departments with university and college administrators.

List the largest threats you see for your department in the next 3-5 years.

Two-Year Programs

"Campus advising tends to diminish the validity of geoscience career opportunities to students thereby steering some of the better prepared students away from this discipline"

"Low enrollments in the sciences because of under prepared incoming students."


Undergraduate Programs

"Shift in student enrollments to less rigorous environmental studies curricula or 'soft science' courses developed in other departments."

"Geology is not part of the administration's perception of science in the new millennia. It is neither biotechnology or nanotechnology."

"A national backlash against the geosciences over 'hot button' topics including evolution and global climate change."


Masters Programs

"Loss of positions as senior faculty retire and limited budgets that do not permit upgrading of infrastructure."

"Insufficient time to educate administrators as to the importance of our departmental mission."

"The public perception that geology is a sunset industry."


Doctoral Programs

"Reduction in government funding for scientific research particularly in the National Science Foundation budget."

"Salary compression and the social damage it causes"

"Ever diminishing financial resources from state funding and tuition. One result of the diminished funding is that faculty salaries have not kept pace with those at peer institutions."


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