View from the Chair
A View from the Chair
The Spring Semester was one of the busiest yet for both Faculty and Students, culminating in our graduation of 56 Bachelors, 5 Masters of Arts, 12 Professional Masters in Geospatial Information Science and 9 Doctors of Philosophy, setting a new Departmental record for the number of PhD’s hooded in one semester. Our pre-commencement reception provided a nice opportunity for the PhD students and their Advisors to share some thoughts on their long journey to completing the doctorate.
In addition to presenting the Departmental awards, we recognized the dedicated service of Wilhelmina Johnson, who is the welcoming face of the front office for students and visitors alike. Earlier in the semester another of our administrative staff, Bob Crossgrove, received a well-deserved award from the Campus as Outstanding Coordinator of Graduate Studies. This semester we have been searching for three new hires: one in the Human Dimension of Global Change and two joint appointments with Economics and Sociology. In the last week of the semester we had four short-listed candidates visit the department in four days, probably another Departmental record which took its toll on the search committees and not one to try and beat!
Immediately following commencement, the Department went on retreat to Osprey Point, where we completed outstanding departmental committee business for the year, revising our Plan of Organization (thanks to Eric Kasischke) and Graduate Handbooks (thanks to Klaus Hubacek) and putting in place a new Graduate Portfolio. This latter initiative, developed by Ralph Dubayah (Graduate Director) and endorsed by the Faculty, will replace the conventional PhD comprehensive exam and provide our graduate students with a way to demonstrate their readiness to advance to candidacy. Additionally, we spent some time strategizing on further enhancing our undergraduate teaching program. This year, we offered four study abroad courses building on the strengths of our international faculty. Joe Trocino led a Winter Term course on the Southern Caribbean capitalizing his extensive experience and expertise in the region. Luigi Boschetti led a course to his native Italy in the Winter Term and Mila Zlatic offered a course in her native Croatia. Mr. Trocino and Ms. Zlatic also offered a course in Grenada via the new Terrapin Takeoff program for incoming freshman.
Our department continues to play a strong role in international programs with Faculty attending meetings in Argentina, England, France, China, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Switzerland and Italy. This semester we inaugurated a new joint center on global change with Beijing Normal University, one of the top universities in China. This marks the culmination of several years of high level discussions and research collaboration developed by John Townshend and Shunlin Liang. This joint center will facilitate an easier exchange of students and faculty and broaden our research collaboration.