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Proposal for Authorization to Implement a Materials Science Comprehensive Major




University Senate Academic Policies Committee


Brief History of the Issue

One of the most promising and fastest-growing employment sectors is in the field of nanotechnology and nanoscience.  These fields involve studying and working with matter on an ultra-small level in disciplines ranging from medicine to physics to chemistry to engineering.  Progress in nanoscience has worldwide implications and will lead to dramatic changes in the ways materials, devices, and systems are created and understood


Nanoscience is too focused to be a major by itself at an undergraduate institution.  A focused, interdisciplinary course of study in the traditional fields that form the basis for materials science will prepare students to make significant contributions to the nanoscience and nanotechnology fields.  The new major will provide students with opportunities to use state of the art materials and science facilities already available and to work with new instruments acquired as part of the Nano-Stem initiative.  The approach is unique in that the major is deliberately interdisciplinary and consistent with a liberal arts approach rather than being narrowly focused on science and engineering themes.  The materials science courses provide the context for interconnecting the scientific disciplines.  New courses developed to support the major will support existing degree programs and will also serve students in the Chippewa Valley Technical College Nanoscience Associate’s degree program.


Points Discussed by Committee:

  • Maintenance costs for facilities and  equipment,
  • Impact on resources and enrollment in existing majors,
  • Library resources in support of the program,
  • Influence on University enrollment.
  • Ability of program faculty to implement required courses as planned
  • Ability of faculty to earn tenure and promotion if they teach 75% outside their home department


Pros of Recommendation:

  • Reflects national trends in research in the disciplines
  • Strong connections to the Learning Goals of the University Strategic Plan and priorities for nanoscience initiatives
  • Emphasis on the liberal arts and sciences not usually found in materials sciences programs
  • Establishes an additional interdisciplinary option for students
  • Adds faculty resources in multiple disciplines beyond the sciences
  • Attracts highly qualified students to campus
  • Strengthens relationships with other institutions and expands international collaborations
  • High demand for graduates


Cons of Recommendation:

  • May affect enrollments in other majors.






The University Academic Policies Committee by a vote of 7 votes for and 0 votes against recommends to the University Senate that the Request for Implementation of a Materials Science Comprehensive Major be approved.



Implementation Date: On approval


Dr. Robert E. Hollon, chair, on behalf of the

University Senate Academic Policies Committee  



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