A Vision for the Sciences

The Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Departments at Xavier University together envision themselves as a vital part of the academic renaissance of the next ten years. We now make, and will continue to make, a significant contribution to the rigorous undergraduate programs that empower students to integrate theoretical and applied knowledge with questions of human values and ethical behavior (from Academic Vision Statement).

Our programs currently are strong, in providing service courses to other programs, in providing core curriculum courses, and in providing our majors with appropriately diverse and challenging courses in the disciplines. The strength of all the programs lies in the faculty, who not only are skillful in the classroom, but also are skillful in allotting their time among teaching lecture and laboratory classes, mentoring student research, performing their own research, and serving the university in many ways. We are convinced that the academic quality of all of our programs, however, is based on our commitment to the value of the laboratory experience, the single most important activity of scientists and students of the sciences.

Considering how central the laboratory experience is to our programs, we envision an improved future with updated teaching facilities and adequate research space for students and faculty projects. Although the science buildings were renovated or built twelve years ago, they were planned to meet our needs at that time and future growth was unanticipated. Adequately equipping those facilities is also a priority, and new faculty members need to have greater start-up funds available for equipment, if it is needed.   Beyond the expanded and improved physical facilities and equipment, the value of student research mentoring should be acknowledged as a significant role of the faculty, with credit hours awarded realistically to both students and faculty.

The science departments also value the interdisciplinary nature of their fields and realize the importance of research to demonstrate that interdependence to students being educated in the sciences. We envision students in the next decade being more actively supported in their research endeavors by greater funding for travel to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and other conferences, by publication of abstracts of student research, and by a speakers series for the sciences scheduled at a common time. These activities would increase the interactions among all the science faculty and students, which in turn would foster an invigorated atmosphere in the science departments and a more prominent position for the sciences on campus and beyond.