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Friday, May 01, 2009

Bruce MacFadden writes about geology

UF needs geology--By Bruce MacFadden

In 1968 as a freshman at the University of Maryland, I took a geology course as part of my liberal education requirement and found my major. Then and there I decided that I wanted to study geology.

After consulting the catalog, however, I discovered that UMD had neither a geology major, nor did it have a department with this name (my course was taught by the agronomy department). After spending some time reading through other college catalogs, I determined that UMD was the only flagship university in the U.S. without a geology department.

I wrote a letter to UMD President Elkins telling him that I had decided to major in geology, but that I would have to transfer. A little while later the liberal arts dean called me in for a chat. He was not happy about my letter. He talked about chain of command and used words such as "impertinence."

I left UMD, went elsewhere for my B.S., and then ultimately received my Ph.D. in geology. Several years after my departure, UMD founded a geology department that now is roughly the size of our current one at UF.

Ironically, if the proposed budget cuts are enacted and the UF geology department is eliminated, then we will become unique among flagship universities.

University stakeholders oftentimes seek superlatives to separate their institution from others, although I doubt that the Gator Nation will proclaim: "Hey, UF is unique among flagship universities because we do not have a geology department!"

Bruce J. MacFadden,


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