Building Strong Geoscience Departments > Workshops > Developing Pathways to Strong Departments for the Future > Participants and Essays > University of St. Thomas Department of Geology

University of St. Thomas Department of Geology

Lisa Lamb, Assistant Professor

Department of Geology
University of St. Thomas


In the fall of 2000, Tom Hickson and I inherited a 2 faculty geology dept with 4 majors, no student or professor research, no field requirement, very little standard lab equipment for upper-division courses and a curriculum based on the offering of the same large (124 students) but popular, intro physical course every semester with a major that consisted of 6 required allied courses and 7 required geology courses with no choices and with few field-based labs. It had been a 2 faculty/1 adjunct department for 30 years where only 1 faculty member had a Ph.D. and neither were expected to do research. The department had a strong tradition of helping students individually and had recently moved into a new building with wonderful classrooms.

Tom and I were hired at the same time and expected to:

In the first 4 years and with the help of great adjuncts, we:

We now have 18-20 majors and have doubled to quadrupled enrollments in most of our upper-division courses. We got permission to hire a 5-year limited term but full-time person (and our dean fought hard for it to a be a tenure track position).

What we believe has worked and led to our increase in majors:

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