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President Donald R. Eastman III

Strategic Planning Recommendations

Addendum 1: Center for Marine Science and the Environment

A.) Introduction and Rationale

For more than a decade, the Marine Science discipline has played a key role in enhancing the reputation of Eckerd College and helping us to attract high-quality students. Although other colleges in the Southeast have developed similar programs, Marine Science at Eckerd retains a competitive advantage because of our ideal coastal setting, modern facilities, respected faculty, and reputation for "hands-on" learning. This competitive advantage, however, cannot and should not be taken for granted. Efforts to strengthen and expand our foci will ensure that we take full advantage of a constantly evolving market.

Eckerd College has also developed a reputation as a school that puts a special emphasis on environmental concerns. Eckerd's Environmental Studies major, for example, is the largest of its kind in the Southeast and one of the largest in the nation. In addition to our regular Environmental Studies faculty, a wide range of other Eckerd professors also commonly teach courses that address environmental issues, and all students are required to take at least one "environmental perspective" course.

It is our belief that by uniting these two areas of strength in a Center for Marine Science and the Environment (along with allied fields of Marine Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Geophysics), Eckerd College will distinguish our approach from that of our competitors, enhance our national reputation in both fields, and provide new opportunities for collaboration in research and innovation in course offerings.

B.) Internal Strengths

  • We already have a national reputation for Marine Science, Environmental Studies, and for a concern with broader environmental issues.
  • We already have respected faculty specialists in Marine Science and Environmental Studies that provide hands-on research opportunities for students.
  • We have a strategic location not only for marine issues, but also for coastal environmental concerns and work with endangered and threatened species (some of which live on our campus!).
  • This Center would encourage new and mutually beneficial ties between Marine Science and Environmental Studies, which currently have separate locations and identities on campus. Eckerd students are already ahead of the curve here since Environmental Studies majors frequently also choose to minor in the sciences.
  • The Environmental Studies major has a strong "humanities component" that might contribute to the Center in better preparing science-oriented students to confront important ethical issues and difficult policy decisions. (Note: Some Environmental Studies faculty might also ally with a Center for International and Global Studies, which is proposed in Addendum 2).

C.) External Opportunities

  • Marine Science has typically been one of our most marketable programs for incoming students, attracting between 1/4 and 1/3 of recent freshman classes. Although the number of incoming students who declare an interest in Environmental Studies is smaller, the number of current ES majors and graduates often rivals or surpasses those for Marine Science. Clearly, judging from these data, a Center for Marine Science and the Environment should be very marketable to both incoming students and their parents.
  • Marine Science and Environmental Studies (as well as allied disciplines such as Chemistry) already attract high-quality students that consistently find excellent careers upon graduation.
  • The Marine Science program already features partnerships with several local marine science institutions, including Mote Marine Laboratory, FMRI, Florida Aquarium, and the Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory. Additional partnerships are also in place (or can easily be developed) with local research universities and government-sponsored institutes. Formal links to local environmental NGOs and government agencies might also be explored or expanded.
  • Student internships with many of the above Marine Science and Environmental organizations are already available and might well be featured in the Center.
  • There are significant outside funding opportunities, especially for many of the specific program development initiatives listed below (under Ideas for Implementation).
  • Although the combination of Marine and Environmental Studies would make us fairly unique in the Southeast U.S., other small schools with Marine Science programs have started to develop similar alliances (e.g., the University of San Diego).

D.) Ideas for Implementation

  1. New Marine Science Programs - The Marine Science faculty have recommended four new programs that might be developed to enhance the attractiveness and build the reputation of their program. These programs are: Mariculture, Coral Reef Science, Marine Archaeology, and Animal Behavior.
  2. New Environmental Programs - The Environmental Studies faculty have recommended three focal areas to enhance the environmental component of a new Center: Endangered Species, Coastal Issues, and International Environmental Issues.
  3. Enhance Facilities and Add Support Personnel - Besides specific faculty additions in new areas of specialty and other faculty additions to limit laboratory class size, this Center would likely also require expansions and renovations to Galbraith, new indoor and outdoor lab spaces, and additional support personnel.
  4. This Center could assume primary responsibility for providing "environmental perspective" courses to all students. It might also coordinate plans for sponsoring service learning opportunities, co-curricular environmental programming, and special events that foster outreach into the community.