STOP UVM GEOLOGY CUTS

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As recent graduates of the University of Vermont Geology Program, we believe that Dean Bill Fall's recommendation to cut the geology major, minor, and master's degrees from the University of Vermont is shortsighted and detrimental. According to UVM's website, UVM is "Grounded in the Green Mountain State's tradition of progressive thought and action; the ethic of sustainability is central to the University of Vermont's character. Through research, education, and practice, we advance knowledge and application of approaches critical to the sustainability of people and planet." The geology department's classes contribute to UVM's ranking as the #3 Greenest School in the nation, covering sustainability topics ranging from soil and groundwater contamination to waste management to earthquake preparedness to climate change. The geology department's absence will considerably weaken the environmental science courses because the environmental science major depends on a large number of geology courses. Geology courses offer an entirely new perspective on sustainability compared to other university programs by accounting for both past and present-day environmental processes in solving our pressing environmental dilemmas.

 As of now, the cuts are merely recommendations. We have the power to rally together to change the Dean's mind to prevent UVM from cutting the geology major. Signing this petition is one such way to show your support, but please do more if you can. Please personally reach out to Dean Bill Falls, Provost Patricia Prelock, and the UVM Board of Trustees and remind them that geology significantly contributes to UVM as a top-tier environmental school. We also want to remind the board that the department produces many incredible students that graduate from the program. The department has a strong track-record of success in producing graduates that perform well at the graduate level and in the job market. Please carefully read the testimonials regarding the importance of the geology department during their time at UVM and on their post-graduation pursuits. 

“The geology department provided me with the most rewarding experience I could have asked for due to close-knit interactions with faculty and classmates. During my time at UVM, I was able to complete 2 research projects, including one professional publication. UVM Geology has led me to an ivy league masters program at the University of Pennsylvania in spatial analytics. The geology program has provided myself with the analytical tools necessary to thrive in a large number of industries, particularly within geospatial technologies and urban planning.” (Kyle McCarthy, class of 2020)


“As a PhD student in applied mineralogy at Virginia Tech, a major research institution, I found my time in the UVM geology department indispensable. I initially applied to the University of Vermont to pursue an academic career as a geologist based on the success and excellent reputation of the geology department and its professors. The professors in the department, including Dr. John Hughes, Dr. Laura Webb, and Dr. Keith Klepeis, and their classes in Crystal Chemistry, Structural Geology, and Geophysics, hugely impacted my career as a geoscientist, and I firmly believe that I would not hold the academic position I do now without them. During my time within the department, I was a co-author on two studies, represented the department in the 2018 Northeast Geological Society of America conference, and participated in some service learning projects that allowed us to apply our research as geologists to the benefit of the Vermont community. As UVM is, by definition, the University of the Green Mountains, I believe it will be detrimental to the mission of the university to remove the geology department from the university’s registrar, and by doing so I believe we will lose a critical perspective of the history of Vermont that has allowed us to truly appreciate this university and the land it was built on.” (Alix Ehlers, class of 2019) 


“The best thing about my 4 years at UVM was the home I found in the Geology department. The hands-on, field based approach to learning that I received through my geology classes, facilitated by faculty who are world-renowned in their fields, was the most rewarding and meaningful learning experience I could have ever hoped for. When I think back on my college experience, I think of snowshoeing in Bolton for Glacial Geology, or standing in the pouring rain for Field Geology, but also the genuine care that professors in the Geology department have for their students and their learning, and it breaks my heart to think that future students may not have the opportunity to experience that”. (Robyn Badura, Class of 2020)


“The Geology department at UVM is not only a place of esteemed research and faculty, but also one of deep interpersonal connection and professional guidance. My most impactful academic experiences, by far, have been in the small geology classes that make it possible for even the shyest of students to participate and build positive relationships with peers and faculty who provide the practical and emotional support needed to succeed in science. This empowering environment opened doors for me to participate in pertinent research projects including Pb contamination in Burlington soils, isostatic rebound in Greenland, and my thesis project, studying stream sediment from Cuba. Even after graduation, I continue to work in a UVM Geology lab, now as a trained professional. Dissolving the Geology department will not only hurt the aspiring scientists who would apply here, it will also hurt Vermont. Without well-trained geologists, we will be severely hindered in our ability to predict and respond to future environmental threats.” (Landon Williamson, Class of 2020)


“Since graduating from the geology department in 2019, I’ve worked as a remediation technician and am currently enrolled as a masters (soon to be PhD) student at RPI. The quality of the education and the care taken by the professors in involving us with the research techniques and equipment used by them in their respective disciplines massively contributed to the rich skill set and resume that has been indispensable for my successes in academia. Having the privilege to attend a liberal arts college that had yet to cut any liberal arts, I was able to take classes in a massive diversity of disciplines. Despite this large exposure to different departments, I am completely confident in saying that cutting the geology department is cutting one of the absolute best parts of our university. With a sentiment I’m sure is shared by all signatories on this page, it is deeply uncomfortable to watch such a profound force on our lives and successes be threatened.” (Alex Collins, class of 2019)


“The community of the Geology department and the expertise of the faculty have had immense impacts on my successes during my undergraduate years as well as post-graduation. Through the Geology department I have been able to travel outside the country and across the nation to take part in research and attend conferences. The courses stretch across the different sub disciplines of geology that all build a strong foundation of what is necessary to understand the science of the very Earth we live on. The tools and skills I have obtained in class, in the lab, and in the field have greatly prepared me for the environmental consulting sector and academic sector. I believe Vermont will diminish its potential to address environmental dilemmas with the loss of the Geology department.” (Melinda Quock, Class of 2019)


“Starting my collegiate career with large majors such as biology, neuroscience, and eventually switching over to environmental science I quickly found myself lost in large lectures and lacking the ability to invoke the style of learning in which I knew I would thrive. After a few basic geology classes to fill credits for my declared ENVS major I knew I had found my fit after many other declarations. The geology department offered a close knit community of students and teachers who were excited to learn with one another and support the community from within. My geology degree allowed me to form relationships I would not have found in other departments with teachers and students alike through hands on classes and research as well as meet and connect with professional geologists who traveled to UVM to present their work and use our state of the art research tools. The geology department offers students a unique opportunity to combine and communicate biology, chemistry, physics, and math in order to solve environmental issues and understand how the earth will change in response to human inputs in the long and short term. Any cuts to this program will be devastating for the UVM community and denounce the scientific progress the school has worked so hard to build over the last many years.” (Kyle Titsworth, Class of 2018)


“Being a part of the UVM Geology departments was one of the best decisions I made at UVM. Due to the small class sizes and adventurous nature of the program, the students and professors had many opportunities to explore Vermont and build lasting relationships. I was pushed to be a better writer, a better thinker, and to be curious about the world around me. I believe it would be detrimental for the program to be taken away and I urge you to reconsider. The future generations of Catamounts deserve to have an opportunity like the one I, and my fellow classmates, had.” (Elisabeth McElwee, Class of 2017)

“The community that resides in the Geology Department is one of supportive faculty, staff, and students, academic success, and opportunities. The faculty and staff are amazingly supportive of the students and regularly offer internship, research, and fieldwork opportunities, in addition to their normal teaching roles. I’ve met and made friends with students while spending nights in Delahanty Hall finishing lab reports for our classes. The memories that I have are of friendships, camping on field trips, and shared awe while studying something we all think is interesting. My time in the Geology Department at the University of Vermont allowed me to learn about something I love, while connecting with those who love it too.” (William K Vincett III, Class of 2017)

We appreciate your support and for joining us in our fight against large-scale University of Vermont budget cuts. Geology is a crucial aspect of understanding the environment and the current environmental dilemmas threat exists today. In the future, geologists will play a significant role in solving those dilemmas. This petition helps ensure that the geology department exists at UVM for generations to come so that students can continue to experience the power of geology while making a difference in creating pressing environmental solutions.  

Sincerely, 

UVM Geology Alumni