CSUS Schools See More Student Science Majors; Up 32 Percent In Last Five Years
New Buildings at Eastern and Western Contribute to Increases Exceeding 50 Percent in 5 Years
By KATHLEEN MEGAN
September 29, 2010
For Nick Shoenfelt, a biochemistry major at Eastern Connecticut State University, the $64.2 million state-of-the-art science center factored strongly in his decision to come to the school.
"It's something else," said Shoenfelt, who transferred to Eastern soon after the science center opened in 2008. "They had just built the brand-new science center when I was applying."
With new offerings in science programs and new science buildings at Eastern and at Western Connecticut state universities, university officials say that the number of students majoring in the sciences at the four state universities has grown by 32 percent during the past five years.
The percentage increase in science majors during the past five years is particularly impressive at the colleges with new science buildings: up 54 percent at Eastern and up 51 percent at Western.
At a news conference held at the science building at Eastern earlier this week, CSUS Chancellor David G. Carter said the numbers show that "If you build it, they will come."
The $48 million science center at Western opened in 2005.
From 2005 to 2009, the number of science majors at Eastern increased from 222 to 343, while at Western the number went up from 239 to 362. Science majors went up 34 percent at Central and up 10 percent at Southern during the same time period.
The number of students majoring in scientific academic disciplines across the four universities went up from 1,373 in 2005 to 1,818 in 2009.
"For Connecticut-based businesses looking to hire students with scientific knowledge and background, these numbers are tremendously encouraging," Carter said in a statement. "When students have had hands-on experience with the latest technology, they can move seamlessly into the workforce."
Kimberly Crone, director of admissions and enrollment management at Eastern said, "I can state with confidence and evidence that this facility helps us with our recruitment efforts and inspires an interest in the sciences that is contagious."
Crone said 92 percent of students at Eastern are from Connecticut and more than 90 percent of the university's graduates stay in the state to live and work. The other three state universities have similar numbers, she said. "CSUS is the wellspring of Connecticut's workforce," she said.
Richard Balducci, a member of the CSUS Board of Trustees and a former state legislator, said the importance of the science disciplines "cannot be overstated."
He said that a report issued by the National Science Foundation showed that compared to their U.S. counterparts, undergraduate students in foreign countries chose natural science and engineering as their primary field of study at much higher rates.
According to the report issued in May, 25 percent of undergrads in the European Union; 47 percent in China; and 38 percent in South Korea chose natural science and engineering as a major, compared to only 16 percent of U.S. undergraduates.
The state universities also are completing development of a graduate certificate program in nanotechnology with coursework at all four universities, tentatively scheduled to begin next fall.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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