18 March 2014
Re: Geosciences Department Closure
To Whom it Does Concern:
I am a 2011 graduate of USM’s Geography-Anthropology program. I am currently taking classes at USM before applying to a PhD program in 2015. I am writing this letter to protest on behalf of an already silenced group at USM, the Geosciences department.
The number of students graduating from the department must not have merited funding by bureaucratic standards. Certainly money is a hot-button issue at USM; the students, faculty, and staff are constantly made aware of USM’s financial woes. Some type of equation must have been used to determine that Geosciences is not proving to be enough of a cash cow to keep around. I know what we do at our farm when one of our animals isn’t producing, and it is not rosy.
However, this University, unlike a business such as a farm, is not for-profit. It is for education. And while it is essential to balance the books with any operation, I argue that USM is making an enormous mistake by eliminating a key department within the University. I argue this because Geosciences is not only a crucial asset to other departments which are producing many graduates, but also because the future of science is going to rely heavily on educated geoscientists.
I need not remind anyone in the scientific community that geoscience is integral in climate change solutions, in the energy industry, in land management, in engineering, in government, and the list goes on. To eliminate what has proven to be an essential component of any well-respected and well-rounded University is folly. Students with Geoscience training are highly sought after, even if they do not possess a degree in it. Geoscience undergraduate experience is often the springboard to graduate degrees in other academic pursuits.
The elimination of the Geosciences department will not affect me personally. I will be finished with my classes by the end of this year, and I will most likely not take any more from the University of Southern Maine because I am moving on to a graduate degree which is not offered here. However, I can personally attest to the fact that Geosciences helped me to become the scientist I am today, and helped me on my path toward pursuing my PhD in the sciences as a USM graduate.
As both a student and as a citizen, I am deeply concerned about this closure. Although it may be too late for this letter to make a difference, I hope it serves as a reminder that your students care and that they are paying attention.