The success of the first phase of the IUGFGS endowment campaign has moved the programs well along the path outlined in our 10-year plan. The next phase of fundraising for the Field Station will continue this effort with a similar focus on facilities and scholarships. These two issues go hand in hand, reflecting the aging of the facility and the need to continue to recruit the best students from across the nation.
The strategic plan for IUGFS has four main components:
In anticipation of future facility enhancement, a master plan for the Field Station was created by the SmithGroup, the same architectural firm engaged by IU Bloomington for its master plan. This plan was fleshed out working with the Mosaic architectural firm in Helena. You can view plan drawings below (click on the images to view larger).
Key pieces of this plan involve:
These construction projects are critical for being able to move forward with the expanded use of the Field Station, which has been gaining momentum as a result of the first phase of the campaign. We have successfully expanded both the number of months that the facilities are utilized as well as the number and diversity of users. The latter includes other universities, professional societies, federal, state, and local governmental agencies, private companies, and non-profit organizations.
Examples of these efforts to make greater use of our outstanding facilities and geologic location include a partnership with faculty members from Penn State and the University of Georgia to offer a graduate course in stratigraphic paleobiology, which is a direct consequence of both the surrounding geology and the availability of the classroom and computer laboratory. We have also entered into an agreement with the University of Hong Kong to host their field course for a three-year period (2015-2017). The first year was highly successful and we have already made arrangements for 2016.
We have also hosted and had new inquiries from a number of professional groups that recognize the fact that the addition of the new classroom and computer cluster along with upgraded housing options, when coupled with the unquestionably outstanding geology, make the Field Station an attractive venue for a range of offerings. Among them, several major oil companies and independent service companies have already made use of these facilities for short courses with the expressed intent of expanded use in the future.
At the heart of what we do is the education of students. The attraction for the students remains unchanged: challenging and spectacular geology. What has changed over time is the increase in the cost of education. We have always benefited from very generous support from the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences for our courses, but the cost of tuition, particularly for non-Indiana residents, continues to rise.
In 2015, $55,000 in scholarship support was awarded. The availability of scholarships has allowed us to continue to attract the best students in the nation and allowed a dramatic increase in the standards for admission.
We recognize that the experiences shared by every class over the course of the 7 weeks spent together in Montana form bonds that are long lasting. With increased scholarship support we can make this experience a possibility for future generations of geology students.
III. CURRICULUM EXPANSION
We have been expanding our curriculum within G429 and also adding additional courses such as G433 in efforts to keep the IUGFS at the leading edge of field education. Examples of additions to the G429 curriculum include the incorporation of geochemical and isotopic data sets, the use of subsurface well logs for regional correlations of Mesozoic formations, and the addition of field instrumentation such as terrestrial laser scanning and gradient magnetometry.
We are also excited to renew the graduate research field experiences that have been so successful in the past; one with a structural focus is planned for the summer of 2016. The course, G700 3-D Structural Analysis will be co-taught by Dr. Jim Handschy, now an adjunct faculty member in the department, and Dr. Bruce Douglas. In addition, we are actively developing other graduate level courses and professional short courses on such topics as snow melt hydrology, applications of geodetic techniques to geologic problems, sedimentation and tectonics, and tectonic geomorphology.
We also are working towards offering field experiences for high school teachers involved in STEM education and their students to take advantage of the Willow Creek Instrumented Watershed.