Geography faculty are successful in pursuit of grants and in disseminating knowledge once the grant work is completed. Over the past 6 years there have been 70 successful research, program enhancement, faculty development awards and contracts, totaling over $475,000. Research output included over 20 publications and 80 presentations in the same period. Service to our professional societies, the university, college and department, as well as international, regional and local organizations is also deemed important to our faculty. We have maintained membership in 41 different professional organizations over the past 5 years and participated in over 80 different types of service activities.
Geography majors are increasing in number and in their solidarity as a group. Along with the rise in number of Geography majors (71) over the past 6 years, there has been a similar rise in enrollments in upper-division, on-campus, geography courses. In 2002 we had approximately 225 students enroll in upper-division courses; this increased to approximately 625 students in 2007-2008. Thirty-six Geography majors have enrolled in individual, mentored undergraduate research courses, 26 undergraduate Geography students have received over $14,200 in competitive research grants from the Honors College, College of Sciences, and the Markwell Fund and 22 have presented at professional conferences. The internship program has experienced growth over the past 6 years, allowing 83 internship experiences for Geography majors; the average intern earns approximately $2,100 per semester as well as gaining a wealth of on-the-job experience.
The strength of the Geography program lies in the dedication of the faculty to fulfill their primary duties with vigor, while maintaining a close relationship with our majors. Being responsive to changing trends in the discipline, academia, technology and job requirements has allowed us to implement dynamic curricular adjustments that enhance our program including 12 new courses, a new International Studies Concentration, revision of the Geographic Techniques/Spatial Analysis Concentration, 17 different Seminars/Special Topics courses, 5 domestic summer Field Courses, 10 International Summer Field Courses and 14 ESRI certified workshops. We have strived to maintain our teaching and lab facilities and provide the hardware and software our students need to learn current procedures they will encounter on the job or in graduate school.
Development of EIU WeatherCenter to provide students of geography and broadcast meteorology a place to develop their skills before moving on into an actual studio. Currently, nine students (majors and non-majors) volunteer their time in the daily functions of the center. The facility also provides the general public, researchers, and students meteorological/climatological data from its network of four digital weather stations across the city and in Terre Haute, Indiana. Three of the stations were provided by GEG, FPM, and the Redden Fund. In October of 2008, National Weather Service requested the department to once again take official weather observations for the Cooperative Weather Observation program. The station was originally located on the east side of the Physical Science building until Dalias Price moved it to his home. Today, it is back on campus with a Stevenson shelter, rain gauge, and the newly installed frost gauge providing students an opportunity to get a hands-on experience in data collection.
Students currently enrolled in the Broadcast Meteorology Minor program have participated in the development of several documentary productions that have aired on WEIU-PBS and other PBS stations throughout the Midwest: “Expedition Nature’s Realm” (2007, an eight-part film currently in production), “An Illinois Winter” (2006), and “Stinging Dust & Forgotten Lives: The Dust Bowl” (2008). Students research and deliver topics that concern weather, climate, and issues of the natural environment. These productions also provide another form of outreach for the department.
Over the past 5 years the Geography faculty have been quite successful in receiving awards for performing their assigned duties at a high level of achievement. They have received 20 separate awards from the University, College of Sciences, Honors College, College of Continuing Education, ESRI and the AAG. Some faculty have received awards from the same entity several times, and, at times, several faculty have received awards in the same year.