The Board of Academic Affairs approved the return of the chemistry major, which was eliminated in 1998
“The proposal for a chemistry major, Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, has been approved by the Board of Higher Education,” Joslin said on Tuesday. “Over the last several years, there has been an increase in STEM majors including more students electing the chemistry minor and expressing interest in a chemistry major.”
Chemistry professor Robert Harris created the proposal for the reinstatement of the major that was submitted to Board of Higher Education, and is pleased with the results.
“The return of the chemistry major has made us look at our courses and look for ways to improve them and create new electives,” Harris said. “This obviously helps the chemistry major, but it also helps any major that requires chemistry courses as part of the major as well. [For example,] biology, physics, environmental studies and, athletic training.”
David Levine, a chemistry professor, said the new science building and chemistry major will help to support and strengthen each other.
The transition of chemistry from a minor to a major will require no additional space, he said. “It’s not economically different. Having a major strengthens the [science] program,” Levine said.
According to Levine, the chemistry major was eliminated in 1998 because statistics didn’t meet the Board of Higher Education standards, which compare the majors of graduating classes in all state colleges. For a major to remain in good standing, 15 students must complete the program over a three year span, otherwise the degree program is cut. However, this was ruled illegal because the size of the MCLA student body was not taken into account.
Levine and Harris agree that the sciences are interrelated.
“The biology major requires two years of chemistry and the new chemistry major requires Introduction to Biology as well Biochemistry…the two majors already have overlap,” said Harris. “If you look at how science is progressing today, you will see that the traditional lines of disciplines are being blurred….there are some things that are straight chemistry and straight biology, but more and more research is being done at the interface of the two. Think about drug design and research, natural product isolation and characterization or even enzyme research; all of these have both biology and chemistry components.”
Basic course requirements are similar to the course requirements in the past. The senior year of a major curriculum is made up of electives. Students who plan to go on to grad school or industry will focus on upper-level electives, while those looking to become high school teachers should take education courses.
“The courses depend on what blends with the student’s background, as well as the faculty and what they enjoy teaching,” Levine said. “Intro courses change over a period of time based on what’s taught in advance classes. By offering major, we strengthen the minor in undergrad courses.”
Students may declare a Bachelor of Science major in chemistry starting in the spring of 2012.