College seeing increasing number of science majors

Posted by Tegan O'Neil

According to mathematics professor Mark Hofmann, 33 percent of this year's seniors are science majors, representing a 66 percent increase in the number of science majors since 2005.

This increase illustrates the success of the 10-year Strategic Plan for the college, implemented in 2005, which includes a resolution to strengthen the sciences and increase enrollment.

The science department is defined by the following nine disciplines: biology, chemistry, computer science, exercise science, geoscience, mathematics, neuroscience, physics, and psychology.

Hofmann is the chairman of a working group that is focused on improving the sciences at Skidmore. "We have been working since 2007 to create a vision statement for the sciences," Hoffman said.

In 2007 the working group convened to discuss what the sciences at Skidmore should look like in the year 2018 and developed four main objectives.

"First of all, we agreed on the importance of scientific literacy," Hofmann said. The other objectives concern the collaborative nature of science, the importance of undergraduate research and interdisciplinary study. "Skidmore has a unique ability to attract students who are interested in integrating the sciences with other disciplines, which is something that we can capitalize on," Hofmann said.

Hoffmann also attributed the increased student interest in science to some of the decisions made by the Admissions Office.

"The size of the student body has grown and therefore we've picked up more science students…we have been working with Admissions to increase the number of science students," Hofmann said.

The college has made an effort to cater to prospective students interested in the sciences by holding science and math open-houses and offering science directed tours in addition to the general campus tour.

Another draw-in is the college's large emphasis on collaborative research. "The number of students working with faculty this summer increased from 15 in 2005 to 62 last summer," Hofmann said.

While the number of science majors is increasing, there are no immediate plans for a new science building to accommodate the swell.

In the master plan, which was formulated earlier than 2005, there is an addition to the science building scheduled for 2018. The working group has contracted with an outside planning firm and has received a preliminary report in terms of infrastructure.

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