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GONZAGA UNIVERSITY NEWS RELEASE
Dale Goodwin, Director
Peter Tormey, Associate Director
|New Environmental Studies, Biochem Majors OK'd|
The Gonzaga University Board of Trustees has approved an upgrade of the environmental studies concentration to a full-fledged major and minor, authorized a new biochemistry major, and approved the name change for the chemistry department to become the biochemistry and chemistry department.
All of the changes become effective in fall 2009, said Marc Manganaro, dean of Gonzaga’s College of Arts and Sciences, who called the new majors and the renamed department “very welcome developments” and excellent additions to the College’s existing curricula. The Board approved the new environmental studies major and minor at its regular meeting April 16, and authorized the new biochemistry major and departmental name change at a prior meeting (December 2008).
Gonzaga chemistry Professor David Cleary, who will chair the new biochemistry and chemistry department, said creation of a new 71-credit biochemistry major is important because of students’ demand for the discipline and the emergence of biochemistry as a pillar of modern chemistry to be included with analytical, physical, organic, and inorganic chemistry.
“Students preparing to make a technical contribution to society in medicine, science, law, education, government, or education must have some understanding of modern biochemistry principles,” Cleary said. “Beyond that, those students planning for graduate work in biochemistry need a solid undergraduate foundation in the discipline. Like the environmental studies major, biochemistry requires extensive training across traditional academic boundaries.”
Since the environmental studies program as structured is inherently interdisciplinary, it does not require significant new resources, such as the hiring of many new professors, Manganaro said, noting the discipline is in high demand nationwide among undergraduates.
“Offering a major and minor puts Gonzaga University in a favorable position compared to our peer colleges and universities,” Manganaro said. “The emphasis in environmental studies on the care and nurturing of the environment is fully consonant with the mission of the University.”
Gonzaga’s environmental studies concentration was created in fall 2006. Since then, it has swelled to 48 students and doubled its faculty affiliation from 11 to 22. It became clear, almost since the concentration began, that there would be enough demand to fully support a full major and minor for the discipline, said Jonathan Isacoff, who directs the concentration and will direct the new environmental studies major and minor. An expansion of the discipline also was warranted based on comparisons with Gonzaga’s peer institutions, Isacoff said. Santa Clara, Loyola Marymount and Seattle universities along with the University of Portland all offer an environmental studies major or its equivalent.
Gonzaga’s new environmental studies major will require at least 36 credits; 20 credits are required for the minor.
Students in the new environmental studies major will take three science lab courses, an introductory environmental studies 101 course, a capstone environmental studies 499 research seminar, and six additional courses in the social sciences and humanities.
“I am exceedingly pleased that the Administration and the Board have demonstrated the vision and leadership to make these programs happen,” Isacoff said, giving special thanks to Manganaro and interim Academic Vice President Thayne McCulloh (who becomes GU interim president July 15) “for their personal leadership and for taking risks at the right time to see the realization of these programs.”
Gonzaga is poised to provide one of the finest undergraduate environmental studies programs among Catholic colleges and universities in the Western United States, Isacoff said.
“I am already fielding phone calls and e-mails from high school students, parents, and freshmen entering next fall about whether we have an ENVS major and what our other options are. There is a lot of ‘buzz’ about this among both current and prospective students and parents, and I anticipate the program will grow rapidly,” Isacoff said.
“Increasingly, students are looking for schools that offer environmental studies majors,” he said. “Without this major, we stood to lose many admitted students to peer institutions. We will now gain those students and with luck, gain yet additional students as well.”
For more information, please contact Professors David Cleary at (509) 313-6631 or via e-mail or Jonathan Isacoff at (509) 313-5951 or College of Arts and Sciences Dean Marc Manganaro at (509) 313-5522.