Building Strong Departments > Workshops > Strengthening Your Geoscience Program > Participants and their Contributions > Elizabeth City State University

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Geology Program at Elizabeth City State University

by Francisco San Juan & Thomas Rossbach


A. Current Elements of Distinctiveness

  • Our program is unique among HBCUs in its offering of a Bachelor of Science degree in geology.
  • Faculty are diverse in training and research interests, yet provide an integrative approach to issues that affects the planet, its people, and its environment.
  • The program's expertise in spatial and geologic analysis gives it a distinct advantage in teaching, developing, and promoting Geographical Information Science (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) approaches to problem solving.
  • The program is recognized for the success of our graduates in fields such as energy exploration, minerals management, land use management, environmental protection, atmospheric and oceanographic research, and education.
  • The is distinctive in the University for its long history of successful professional public service to the local community in the form of K-12 school visitations, workshops for both teachers and students, and support of Port Discover (the local hands-on science center).

B. Strengths

  • Research opportunities are available in the Department.
  • The geology program has a good record of developing student internships in a variety of research, government, and business environments.
  • Successful placement of program graduates in graduate school or their preferred employment fields.
  • Geology students can graduate with the academic credentials required for eventual professional registration at the state and national levels (one of our faculty is a currently Licensed North Carolina Geologist).

C. Institutional Limitations:

  • Incoming students generally are poorly prepared to handle the rigors of the geology curriculum. Solution: Require geoscience instruction for teacher certification and encourage K-12 teachers to develop geoscience curricula.
  • The University has allowed the physical plant (building, environment, public spaces, etc.) to deteriorate to the point where students are physically uncomfortable as they attempt to learn (e.g., classrooms kept at 55 ºF or 95 ºF). Solution: Repair the physical plant to an acceptable level of operating comfort and efficiency.
  • The University's campus recruiters do not speak specifically about the geology programs. Solution: Develop a specific marketing strategy for campus recruiters that includes the specific programs in earth science.

D. Program Limitations:

  • The Department of Geological, Environmental and Marine Sciences (GEMS) was dissolved in the Fall of 2007 due to low enrollment in its two program, geology and marine environmental science. This came about as a result of the call of the then new president of the UNC system for increased efficiency. The geology program is now in the Department of Chemistry, Geology and Physics, and the marine science program is now in the Department of Biology
  • The program has a limited budget for enhancing student research and other learning activities. Solution: Develop additional monies through grants and service contracts. The faculty has been doing research for a number of years to fund student research, equipment and supplies acquisitions and travel
  • In the past, program relies almost exclusively on lower-division service classes to recruit majors and minors. Solution: Develop a diversified plan for student recruitment, and develop appropriate courses that will attract more students to the Department and the program. A scholarship program sponsored by Exxon and an alumnus has been funded, and selection of awards will be made this summer.
  • The ability of the program to grow has been limited by a lack of understanding by administrators, politicians, and others of the critical importance of geoscience in education and in the community. Solution: Develop a long-term plan to promote the value and importance of the Department's curriculum to all constituents. As the faculty has limited time and expertise to develop marketing and promotion materials, the University's offices of Admissions, Recruitment/Retention, and Career Services and other divisions should help us to develop a more aggressive marketing strategy and provide promotional materials.