WMU geosciences scholars celebrate 50 years as academic department

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News
Department of Geosciences 50th anniversary logo.

Registration is open for all events.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Alumni, retired faculty and friends of the Western Michigan University Department of Geosciences will return to Kalamazoo next week to begin a yearlong celebration of scholarship, service and research as the acclaimed department celebrates its 50th anniversary.

To kick off the celebration, an Alumni Rally Weekend Sept. 18-20 will bring distinguished alumni speakers to the campus for three days of activity that will include lectures by an official from the Environmental Protection Agency, private-sector environmental and oil and gas executives, a museum director and academic leaders from around the nation.

Other anniversary celebration activities include a field trip to a gypsum mine, a gala anniversary dinner, a tribute to the founding chair and long-serving faculty, attendance at the CommUniverCity football game, a golf scramble and a coastal geology field trip to Lake Michigan.

"I'm excited for this opportunity for current students and faculty to interact with alumni and retired faculty," says Dr. Mohammed Sultan, current chair of the department.

Department of Geosciences

The department's founding dates back to 1959 and the hiring of Dr. Lloyd J. Schmaltz, who in 1965 became the first chair of a new stand-alone geology department. Schmaltz, who lives in Kalamazoo, will attend the Alumni Rally as will a number of other department leaders and retired faculty members. Still others will be represented through a video on the history of the department spearheaded by staff geologist Jennifer Trout and administrator Linda Harrison. The pair helped gather video comments from retired professors who live around the nation.

"The history and growth of the department is really a lesson in devotion from some really dedicated scientists and educators," Harrison says.

Today's geosciences department is a growing center for geologic education and research. The department is home to 24 full-time faculty and research staff in addition to 100 undergraduate students, 70 graduate students, several international academic visitors and collaborators. Emeritus faculty with long, distinguished service to the department are also a vital component of the academic research environment.

While its headquarters are in Rood Hall, the research facilities of the Department of Geosciences are spread to several locations, including the Michigan Geological Repository for Geologic Education and Research located off campus along U.S. 131. This 27,000 square foot core repository and research center is the largest such facility in the Great Lakes. The Department of Geosciences also houses the Michigan Geological Survey, which is the geosciences resource for the State of Michigan.

Event and registration information

To register to attend Alumni Rally events and to see a list of those who have already registered, visit bit.ly/1K0YK32.

Attendance at the Saturday daytime events that feature 10 alumni speakers, a student forum and a tribute to founding chair Schmaltz is free. The speaker presentations run from 10 a.m. to noon. The Schmaltz tribute and student forum begins at 1 p.m. and concludes at 3 p.m. Both activities are in Rood Hall. Those interested in attending are asked to register, as a complimentary lunch will be served between the two sessions. Registration for other events that are part of the celebration weekend vary in cost and availability.

For more information, contact Kim Steinmann at (269) 870-0370.

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.