The College of Letters and Science
At the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the College of Letters and Science is focused on the public good, promoting leadership and service grounded in a foundation of flexible and robust education. As home for UW-Steven Point’s humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and computing/mathematics disciplines, our mission is to serve the region, the state, the country and the world through education, scholarship, service and leadership training.
- We will be leaders in quality mathematics and science education for future generations
- We will be partners in health care
- We will create better citizens and caretakers of their government
- We will be stimulators of local and regional economies
- We will be ethical leaders and promote civil discourse
The New Science Building
: Plans for the new science building have entered the final stage as university officials, architects, the state of Wisconsin Division of Facilities Development (DFD), and the University of Wisconsin System have completed the 100 percent design phase as of September 2015. With final state bid and governor’s final approval, the university will break ground on the four-story, 175,000-square foot facility in the spring of 2016. The facility will house all of the Department of Chemistry and the human biology, molecular biology, genetics and botany sections of the Department of Biology. Plans include a tropical conservatory and science-on-display components which will continue to point at UW-Stevens Point as the “science” campus of the University of Wisconsin system. With the best science education facility in the region, the college will remain the “go-to” institution for graduate school preparation, professional health care careers, science education, chemistry and biochemistry, for the foreseeable future.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Spatial Analysis: The College continues on track as a critical center for spatial information and GIS expertise and training, with a new collaborative master’s certificate in GIS offered through UW-Extension, and development of novel mobile apps and collaboration with other departments and colleges. The GIS Center has worked with its home department of Geography and Geology in focusing new curricula on surficial analysis, hydrogeology, environmental analysis and remote sensing specializations. Collaboration with the Department of Computing and New Media Technologies (CNMT) resulted in a mobile app for tracking the bathymetry of the Wisconsin River bottoms near Stevens Point (page 6). Along with development of a mobile app for touring the UW-Stevens Point campus as part of the First-Year Experience, new ideas are hatched using the ubiquitous spatial information at the center of many disciplines.
Local Collaborations for the Advancement of Information Technology: With computer science, informatics and data analytics becoming critically important in health care, insurance, business and marketing, the College is proud of the partnerships being developed with local businesses as part of the Central Wisconsin Information Technology Association (CWITA). As computing and Web analytic information technology become major venture investments for small and large businesses, CNMT has entered into partnerships and collaborations to bring new funding for instructional positions, software development, and cooperative internship opportunities for graduates of its programs.
These partnerships are in keeping with the goals of involving our regional stakeholders in assisting the college and university in staying in tune with the needs of local businesses, industry, and government and health care concerns. These partnerships are enhanced by new curricula, including an online bachelor’s degree in Health Information and Management Technology (HIMT) and Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS), with both curricula showing promise in serving nontraditional students.
Aquaponics and Aquaculture
: This year highlighted public/private partnerships across the college, with perhaps none as strategic as the development of the new Aquaponics Innovation Center (AIC) with the assistance of a Wisconsin Economic Incentive Grant, and the true collaboration of Nelson and Pade Aquaponics of Montello, Wis. The facility is now considered the premier aquaponics education and research facility in the United States, and promises to become a magnet for true innovation in what is considered by many one of the critical national strategic components in the development of sustainable agriculture.
With a state-of-the-art facility for use by UW-Stevens Point scientists and students, and in partnership with one of the nation’s major aquaponics system developers, the AIC is poised to complement the Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility (NADF) in Bayfield, Wis., in the testing and marketing of aquaponics systems utilizing northern fish species in what was once considered only a warm-climate technology. The promise of this new facility, along with the national stature of the NADF, makes COLS and UW-Stevens Point the premier undergraduate university for training in the practical applications of the “aqua” side of agriculture.
The Institute for Applied Ethics and Civil Discourse
: When the university’s strategic plan was finalized several years ago, one of the signature outcomes expected of students as part of their educations was an expectation that civility and civil discourse be part of their skillset and understanding. The College is poised to further this expectation through its curricula in the humanities and social sciences by offering courses demanded by disciplines which will increasingly require ethical standards of their practitioners.
Topics in environmental, medical, business and legal ethics are continually in the news and germane to the curricula offered by our college. Our departments of Philosophy, Psychology, Political Science and Biology have developed new courses covering these topics, and, as part of a new college effort in applied ethics and civil discourse, we hope to incubate a new institute serving these needs across the university. Together with the Healthy Communities Initiative of the University Strategic Plan, this effort will demand interdisciplinary collaboration across departments and colleges as the university prepares its students for a world where they will be expected to make difficult decisions which cross ethical, religious and political boundaries. It is hoped this institute will assist in the development of courses, seminars, speaker series and public discourse in areas which challenge us all to think in a deeper and more open way than we have in the past.
As the college works carefully to nurture and promote a positive environment for learning, and begins to adapt to societal needs for more distance, online and nontraditional education, we cannot simply do more of what we currently do.
As the new partnerships, collaborations and interdisciplinary opportunities mentioned above give us the opportunity to think outside the box, we must adapt to changes in our student demography, new pedagogic technologies, and the clear needs of a new employment reality.
Our stakeholders are in unison in their message to us through our outreach arms (e.g., disciplinary advisory councils and the Academy of Letters and Science): adapt or become irrelevant. The college is promoting initiatives which will require us to serve a much wider audience than the traditional 18-22-year-old cohort, with more diverse instructional tools, from a distance, in the evening, on weekends, and indeed, on-the-road.
Our Initiative in Physical Sciences and Engineering is an attempt at bringing higher enrollments into science disciplines which have room for growth, such as Physics, Astronomy, Geography, Geology, Chemistry and Environmental Science. In addition, our faculty are being trained and certified in offering online course and curricula presentation, collaborative curricula with other campuses in the system and our technical college partners.
We must also address the increasing needs of our diversifying underrepresented student base. A growing need exists for us to service students of Hispanic, Hmong, Native American, economically disadvantaged and first-generation backgrounds, while our diversity challenge includes more students who bring varied religious beliefs to our campus. We must also be intentional in diversifying our student and faculty profile, while showing compassion and understanding for our students who suffer from a growing list of anxiety and mental health disorders. Back to Annual Report