Initial Publication Date: July 2, 2015

Department of Geology, Cornell College

Information for this profile was provided in 2006.

600 First St. SW
Mount Vernon, IA 52314
department website


Number of faculty: 3
Number of graduates per year: 4
Degrees offered: A. B.
Undergraduate students only
Institutional enrollment: 1150

Recruitment and Retention of Students

We recruit students through via our introductory service courses and regular presentations of the major. We also recruit with high profile research and field course opportunities for undergraduates. We lead the college's program in Environmental Studies. Student retention is very high owing to research opportunities.

Program Design

The program is designed to serve as a liberal arts major that also prepares students for graduate study and/or careers in geology. Students take a core of introductory, intermediate and advanced required courses. They then choose one advanced elective in sedimentary geology, petrology, or geomorphology that is then followed by a required "capstone" research experience in that particular field. Best features of the major are the required field course and research experience. Block plan enables extended field trips in virtually every class.

Research Experiences, Teaching Opportunities, and Internships for Undergraduate Students

Research experiences in paleoecology, petrology and low temperature geochemistry are currently available in regions including Australia, the Bahamas, New Mexico, Portugal, Norway, Greece and Iowa. We have endowed accounts restricted for supporting student research. Block plan allows for internships throughout the year. Recent internships have been completed at the Omaha Zoo, Bluestem Waste Management and the Office of the State Archeologist.

Teaching Experiences and Training for Graduate Students

Not applicable.

Supporting Students' Professional Development: Mentoring, Career Advising and Other Activities

The faculty does all mentoring and career advising.

Developing and Maintaining a Healthy Faculty

Excellent interpersonal relationships within the department. All faculty are involved teaching at all levels of the curriculum.

Developing and Maintaining a Department Community that Supports Learning

Regular meetings of reading/discussion groups of students and faculty (often at a faculty home). Students are encouraged to present their research results at a variety of professional venues and to meetings of the geology club.

Department Involvement in the Institution

We have an active geology club that sponsors trips, lectures and reading groups. Activities range from selling and cracking geodes in the student union to our annual rock and fossil give away. The department offers a class open only to freshman during first block.

Participation in Interdisciplinary or Multidisciplinary Programs on Campus

The Geology Dept. leads the Environmental Studies program at the college. A geology course is offered in the Bahamas at the same time as separate biology and anthropology courses - there is a great deal of integration between the classes. We are exploring teaching an introductory course focusing on resources and land use in parallel with a Sociology course on consumerism. The geology department also fostered the interdisciplinary program in archeology at the college.