Junior Spreads Environmental Consciousness in Nicaragua

Junior Cristy Tono is literally helping make the world a better place.

Currently completing a three month internship in Tola, Nicaragua through the Foundation for Sustainable Development, Tono is working on a project to establish a recycling center within the community and educate the locals on the importance of environmental consciousness.

Tono mentioned that creating her project took a lot of time and preparation, but that it is coming together well. “First I got to know the community and the family I was going to be staying with for three months. After assimilating myself into the community, making contacts, getting to know the host organization, their needs, and the needs of the community my supervisor and I developed a work plan that focused on a prominent issue in the community: trash.”

“My goal became clear: to encourage environmental consciousness in the community through teaching to make crafts made from recycled materials more specifically knitting with plastic bags, making pinatas, cultural masks, and jewelry,” she said.

After figuring out her project focus, Tono planned out how the program would unfold. “My project includes three phases: the establishment of a recycling center where trash can be sorted and picked up weekly, craft trainings, and strengthening their information on environmental health to encourage a deeper consciousness in the community. The crafts produced can be sold to local tourists which will motivate the participants of the trainings to continue resulting in more trash being picked up, while also encouraging other locals to participate.”

She also mentioned that as of right now, no recollection system is established in the Limon 2 community in Tola. The trash that does get collected gets burned which causes many toxic chemicals to be put in the air, also causing respiratory issues for the locals, according to Tono.

With her main interest being environmental education, Tono knew this would be a great opportunity to take. “I have always been fascinated by people. Their cultures, their motivations, their way of life. In addition to my interest in environmental education, I saw this community development internship as an opportunity to put the two together.” Through the internship, Tono was placed a community library called Puertas del Saber (Doors to Knowledge) to complete her research.

Tono is also enjoying her time abroad aside from her project. “I am absolutely loving Nicaragua. I love this community,” she said. “I love learning something new from every person I encounter and working on a project that will continue in my absence. I am planning on coming back in May.”

Tono is also looking for the help of the St. Mary’s community to fund her project. Donations can be made to help Tono achieve her goal successfully by clicking here for her project’s website.  The last day to donate is  Thursday, Nov. 15.

Patuxent Partnership Grants $1 Million to College for Applied Physics Track

St. Mary’s College has recently received a $1 million gift from the Patuxent Partnership to develop an applied physics track for student wishing to major in something other than fundamental physics. The department is looking for a new assistant professor, and hopes to start classes once one is found.

The money was given to the program for multiple reasons. According to Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Beth Rushing, “They have been impressed with the productive research relationship between the physics lab on the Navy base and our physics faculty and students,” and it will also be a benefit to students, the community, and local research. The College has a relationship with the Naval Base going back a decade when Chuck Alder, head of the Department of Physics, was working with a researcher there, the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD). They later signed an Educational Partnership Agreement, so now students have completed SMPs there and can have credit internships. Students have also taken jobs there, before going on to doctorate programs.

The College previously offered a physics major with a concentration in fundamental physics. Chair for the Physics Department Professor Joshua Grossman said, “It’s the structure of the universe, the world. From black holes to particle physics. A lot is just for the sake of knowledge, a great thing.”

Now, students can major in applied physics, which is ways physics can be used to develop technology, for example. The two concentrations have some overlap, but about 25% of the material is unique to each. This will help students who want to go into industry jobs, rather than go to grad school immediately. Many companies want technical graduates, and this will better meet students’ needs, allowing a straighter path to a job once graduating with their degree.

The money will be used to support instruments and equipment used, as well as summer stipends for student and faulty research, allowing professors to help students more. A professor on sabbatical will still be able to take on SMP students with help from this gift.

This also helps to further funding. The department has received three grants over the past four years from the Office of Naval Research, totaling $700,000. They see the agreement the College has with the Base and are encouraged to help, as it has tangible benefits for students and research for the community.

Only seven or so students graduate each year and major in physics, which Grossman sees as unfortunate. Physics is, he said, “fundamental- the liberal arts of the sciences. All is built on physics. It can be used to tackle problems in all fields. It deals with quantitate problems, and can model real world situations to make predictions about the future.” Student reaction has been positive overall. First-year Marty Shay, “That sounds fun. Definitley a really cool thing to do.”

The Name Double Dilemma: Why Emails Can Be Inconvenient

Every student is bombarded with emails. You could ask a few of us how it feels to be sent someone else’s emails. It is beyond aggravating. I have a name double with only a different middle name. It’s not her fault I get her emails, or that she sometimes gets mine but it is frustrating when I email the people back who sent out the emails and they continue to send me her emails. I understand that people’s lives are hectic and they don’t notice but when we specifically ask not to receive the emails—they still continue. It’s not too horrible to just delete or forward emails about clubs and such but it could get worse.

Dean Ifill recently sent out an email about a case of email mix-ups, where confidential emails were being sent to the wrong people. This could have the potential to be really damaging to each of these people. Email is a vital way of communication here at St. Mary’s and people need to stay diligent. There are plenty of people with similar names and emails.

It will take some work to remember to check names and delete incorrect emails off emailing lists, but I’m sure we can do it.

The Truth About Iran's "Nuclear Weapons"

I was deeply disturbed when I opened up The Point News and read Jacob Taylor’s opinion piece, “We Trusted the USSR Back then, But Can We Trust Iran Now?” [Oct 16]. His comparison to the Soviet Union is a shaky one at best. The negotiations with Iran are nothing like those the U.S. government had with Soviets over nuclear weapons. This is a different matter altogether. The CIA overthrew Iran’s popularly elected government of Mohammad Mossedegh in 1953 and installed the Shah, using it as a model for future overthrows of “unfriendly” governments in the Cold War. He brutally ruled the country with the secret police, the SAVAK,  trained by the CIA and Israel’s Mossad, which intimidated and tortured political opposition. Additionally, the Shah concentrated wealth in the upper tiers of society with his “White Revolution,” measures that led to the Iranian Revolution in 1979. This is information one must keep in mind.

Still, this is not the major problem I had with this piece. I felt that the piece, while offering “five possible outcomes” for countering Iran, it failed to mention the glaring reality. The US and Israeli intelligence communities, Defense Secretary Leon Peonetta, National Intelligence Directors James Clapper, Vice-President Joe Biden and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak have all agreed that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon. The Supreme Leader of Iran has called “the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin,” said that “the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous” and that “the Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons.” He also issued a fatwa, which under Shii Islam is a binding ruling by a jurist considering a matter of Islamic law, against Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. There is nothing illegal about its nuclear program, as it is for peaceful uses, specifically to fuel nuclear power plants which would generate electricity.

Saying this, I am not agreeing with the actions of the Iranian rulers. Their rule is no better than that of the Shah in terms of regime brutality against the Iranian citizenry. I wish to also point out that Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons of their own, which on top of U.S. military presence around the Islamic Republic of Iran and economic sanctions that hurt ordinary Iranians, causes them to act “irrationally” in the minds of American policymakers. Iran has not declared a war since 1834, so why would one expect them to destroy Israel? Despite popular perception, Iran’s leaders never said that they would wipe Israel out (that was a mistranslation); rather they were decrying the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
In contrast to Jacob Taylor who wrote “I do not know what should be done” and his acceptance of Iran possibly acquiring a nuclear weapon, I have a solution. In order to level the playing field for all in the region, there should be the creation of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, so that neither Israel nor Iran can have nukes. I believe that if negotiated through diplomacy, that it is possible to accomplish and would avoid an unnecessary and costly war with Iran that seems around the corner.

Microcredit: A Good Thing with Room to Improve

This week, I’d like to stray from the usual politics of my column in order to discuss an economic issue, albeit one that has significant political implications: microcredit. Microcredit refers to very small loans, usually somewhere in the hundreds of dollars, which are lent to entrepreneurial citizens in developing regions. These loans have fairly high interest rates, usually 20 to 30 percent according to The Economist, and are intended to kick-start small local businesses. Micro are often touted as superior to direct charity because they wield capitalist incentives that push people to design profitable business plans and, in doing so, build sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their community. When these loans are paid back, the interest paid can be cycled back into the microlender and thus expand the number of loans available.

There are several charities that run microcredit operations; most notable among them is Kiva. Charitable microlenders such as Kiva cycle the vast majority of their profits back into their lending pool and only skim a small portion to pay for their administrative costs. There are many for-profit microlenders out there as well. These companies still cycle their profits back into their lending pool but skim a larger portion off in order to pay employees and expand their business. This is a difficult business model but it can be incredibly profitable when done right. A good for-profit microlender will have a vast number of loans out with tens to hundreds of thousands of borrowers. Each loan brings in a small profit for the company that, when multiplied by thousands, becomes a formidable chunk of income. Furthermore, the small scale of each individual loan mitigates the company’s losses if a borrower defaults on their loan.

Microlending is an effective method for injecting wealth into developing communities. However, not all microlenders are equally efficient, at least not in terms of providing the greatest growth in the community. In essence, the amount of growth that a microlender stimulates in a given community comes down to how much of their money stays in the community. Imagine, for example, a microlender that has issued $10,000 worth of microloans at 10 percent interest in a small town in Niger. If every borrower in the community fully repays their microloans, the microlender can expect to recoup $11,000. If this lender is for profit, then we might expect that $900 will go towards paying for salaries and other administrative costs. This means that the lender has $10,100 to reissue as loans.

Now the businesses in this hypothetical town have an extra $100 that they can draw on as credit in order to grow even further. If the lender is a charity, then we might expect that they would put $400 towards their administrative costs; thus leaving local businesses with an extra $600 worth of credit to draw on. The assumption here is that, no matter how efficient a lender is, some of their profits will leave the community.

Lenders based in the community are the exception. In that case, the money that goes towards administrative costs will be spent on food, leases, and utilities within the community. Given the previous example, no matter how much is spent on administrative costs, all $11,000 will remain in the community either as loans or consumer spending. In this way, a for-profit lender that is locally based often generates greater economic growth than a charitable lender that is internationally based. It is with this logic that I feel more organizations should be pressed to outsource their lending offices. That is, their lending offices should be staffed and maintained by the communities they serve.

For a microcredit program to be effective, it must be accompanied by a microfinance program. Microfinance refers services such as savings accounts, insurance policies, and money transfer systems. These services are crucial for new businesses to thrive. Even the relatively small businesses that are created with microcredit need safe places to store and manage their money. Many of the top microlenders offer these financial services. However, many do not. Bandhan, a microlender in India, is one such lender. This organization does an effective job of approving and delivering thousands of microloans every year. Furthermore, India is dense enough that access to financial services, even in rural areas, is not as limited as in, say, rural Zambia. Still, Indians who start businesses with Bandhan microcredit must deal with the hassle and complications of storing and managing their money at a separate institution. It seems likely that Bandhan’s impact would be even greater if they offered such services directly through their own offices.

Let me end by saying that microlenders, of all kinds, almost always have a positive influence on the communities in which they operate. Even when a lender fails, either from its own incompetence or because it loses too many loans to defaults, the money that it loaned out to the community is not likely to have any less of an impact than if it had been dumped on the community by a traditional charity program. Furthermore, developing governments often demand that charity money be sent through their organization structure before it is delivered to citizens. This practice leaves charitable money vulnerable to appropriation by corrupt government organizations. The fact that microcredit is more resistant to such appropriation makes it both attractive to philanthropists and threatening to corrupt governing bodies.

Sex Fest 2012 Reaches a Climax of Enjoyability

On Oct. 28, St. Mary’s held its second annual Sex Fest in the upper deck area of the Campus Center, with an excellent turnout from students. Sex Fest, conceived as a way to educate students about sexual health and awareness in an engaging way, went on from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and featured games, prizes, informational material and featured several talks from several “sexperts” over the course of the day. The first 200 participants to arrive received stickers as they showed up.

Held for the past two years on the afternoon of the last Saturday in October, Sex Fest 2012 featured booths out together by several of the health and sexuality-related clubs on campus, including the Burlesque Club, the First Responder Network, Feminists United for Sexual Equality (FUSE) and the new Green Dot Program. Many of the sexual wellness tables allowed participants to showcase their knowledge with fun tests, including putting a condom on a dummy to distinguishing different sexually transmitted infections. Rewards including candy and other small prizes. There were also information tables with information for men and women about different types of cancer, and the treatment of STIs. Health coordinators from Chance Hall also made themselves available to talk to the students and give them information and literature on the subjects.

In addition to the exhibition hall in the upper deck, lectures were given throughout the day in Cole Cinema. First, Professor of Religious Studies Katharina von Kellanbach discussed the significance the female orgasm in terms of morality in throughout the study of human sexuality, followed by a Q&A session by Sexual Assault/Wellness Advocate Meghan Root, allowing audience member to ask direct question about sexuality and sexual health. Finally, the event ended with a t-shirt raffle, a best costume prize giveaway and a lecture by sex columnist Timaree Schmitt. In the spirit of Halloween, Dr. Schmitt’s lecture explored the topic of sexuality as a theme in horror films, including the concept of how sexuality both compelling and repellent to the audience or horror, and the concept of the final girl left alive.

Overall, Sex Fest seems to have been regarded a success for its second year in a row. Sophomore and First Responder Dylan Hadfield had this to says of the success of this year’s Sex Fest, “I thought it went very well. We had a great turnout. Part of what makes Sex Fest so successful is that students are able to have fun and relax while also learning new facts about sexual health.” This year’s success certainly generates hope that Sex Fest will return next year as an annual event here at St. Mary’s.

Rob Fahey and the Pieces Bring a Mix of New and Old to Coffehouse

On Thursday Oct. 18, St. Mary’s Programs Board and Hawk Radio welcomed Rob Fahey and the Pieces for a special performance of Coffeehouse. The program, originally scheduled to be held outside the Campus Center, was moved to Aldon Lounge due to the cold weather, started at 8 p.m. and went on to 10:30 with a set of about 20 songs.

Thursday’s show is Rob Fahey’s second performance at the College. Fahey’s St. Mary’s debut was a well-received solo acoustic performance this past spring, sponsored by HAWK Radio and promoted with a screening of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” a movie featuring Fahey’s song “Raised on the Radio.” During the Coffeehouse performance, Fahey was accompanied by his band, the Pieces, featuring Tommy White on bass guitar and Kevin Brubaker on drums. The set was made up of a mix of songs from the Pieces’ album “Breaking and Entering,” Fahey’s solo album “Trust Me I Do This All the Time,” and the Ravyns, Fahey’s first band, as well as covers of classic rock from such bands as the Steve Miller Band and the Producers.

The Pieces gave a stellar, high-charged performance that resonated throughout Aldon and immediately grabbed the attention of both students and older fans that had come to watch. The song of the night, “Running From a Dream” from the album “Breaking and Entering,” set the tone for the performance as an evening of ’80s and ’90s classics delivered with vibrancy and humor. Highlights of the evening included the lonely sounds of “October Changes” from the solo album, “You Don’t See Many of Those Around,” a song from the Ravyns featuring the singer’s humorous observations of a woman whose “set of nails could paralyze,” and an excellent rendition of “Fly Like an Eagle,” featuring a four minute solo from Fahey on guitar.

Fahey’s live performance also demonstrates how Fahey’s sound has evolved since the Ravyns, the Baltimore band that sent Fahey and the rest of the band into a brief period of notoriety after their single, “Raised on the Radio,” was featured in the 1982 sleeper hit film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Fahey has been playing the same songs for nearly three decades, and retains many of his classic sensibilities, from the energy of his voice to the bass-heavy background that’s so common in many of his original compositions. However, his performances have taken on a mellow, haunting aspect. Songs like “Cool Boy” and the once-synthesizer heavy “Angel in Red” take on a more reflective tone, performed with a slower, “twangier” sound that retains the energy of the originals in no small part due to the raw, powerful vocals of Fahey, which are a far cry from the nasally vocals heard in the early work of the Ravyns and the Pieces.

Fahey’s performance has been met with general acclaim. Junior Bridgette Brunk says after seeing the show, “I thought it was really good,” while junior Nick Brown remarked “It’s too bad they couldn’t play outside. They deserved a big audience.” Overall, Rob Fahey has once again left St. Mary’s students engaged and enthusiastic over his Coffeehouse performance, and hopeful that he may be back to do so many more times.

Caldwell Gives Lecture on Photography

On Monday, Oct. 22, Associate Professor of Art (Photography and Digital Media) Colby Caldwell gave his first Artist Lecture, Exhuming the Present – The Photograph as Site, to begin Artweek. Filling up the seats with students and faculty, Caldwell’s presentation, as noted in an all-campus email, featured photographic work from his two exhibitions, gun shy and spent, held in Washington, D.C. last spring. This work was done over the course of 10 years on Caldwell’s St. Mary’s County property.

Senior Stephanie Scott was enthusiastic about the lecture and said she attended this event because photography interested her the most in her field of art, while also pointing out that she was eager to see Caldwell’s work.

This was the first time Caldwell had had the opportunity to talk about his work for the SMCM community, though he has held panels and discussions on other artists’ works before. In general, Caldwell’s lecture focused on the influence that place and technology has had on his artistic ideas and overall understanding of his work as a photographer, while also exploring the medium of photography over the past 10 years. More specifically, however, two rituals concerned Caldwell, that of walking and hunting, and also “the ritual one develops with technology and tools when one’s making art.”

Caldwell then gave a brief overview of his photographs during this ten-year period, which started in 2002 when he moved from D.C. to St. Mary’s, where he would accept a one-year contract as an instructor at SMCM before being hired full-time. He wanted to explore how and why his work had changed in subject matter and content, saying that the technology he chose to capture images was inconstant, changing over the course of time; three examples of his photographs demonstrated his use of the super eight film camera, the still camera, as well as the digital scanner.

The talk then moved to the topic of place, during which Caldwell illustrated how a photographer’s “shift in location” can affect the look of his or her pictures. He demonstrated this with the example of Jackson Pollock’s paintings, “Moby Dick” (1943) and “Lavender Mist” (1949), two pieces that maintained the painter’s original technique, but were stylistically different having been painted in two different places in which the painter had resided. “I saw a parallel,” said Caldwell about Pollock, “at least spiritually, in thinking about how a change of place had an effect on how he saw his medium.”

Prior to his move down to the county, Caldwell’s work was influenced by super eight films his grandfather shot in Montana in the 1960s, which depicted hunting trips. As these images became formative for Caldwell growing up, they would become the basis of his work for 10 years. He would take photographs by exhuming stills from the frames of these films to understand his grandfather and the significance of hunting. He began using black and white imaging, eventually transitioning to color in the late 1990s with the onset of advancements in digital technology and color printing, which allowed him to print on paper instead of plastic.

Despite these efforts, Caldwell said, “It was after my first couple of years here that I realized I was kind of lost in nostalgia, that I was minding my grandfather’s films from the 1960s instead of experiencing what was right out my front door.”

Caldwell then set out to become a part of his new and present environment in St. Mary’s County using a different tool, the still camera, to take portraits of visitors on his rented property south of the College. The pictures were taken in one spot, but during different seasons and Caldwell noticed that the surrounding landscape changed while the space did not.

Through this experiment, Caldwell was not only able to apply the hunting ritual into his present location, but the camera also signaled in him his interest in technology and tools that could be employed to alter his images. Citing the famous 1941 photograph, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, by Ansel Adams, Caldwell argued that technology did not take away authenticity to still images.

Adams’s development of the zone system, a technique of burning and dodging and using contrast and filters to manipulate a photograph for desired effect, was, to Caldwell, a clear example of how current technology, in any era, could be utilized to enhance a picture. “As artists, it’s also important to consider how we interact with our space to create place by the tools and technology we mediate it with,” said Caldwell.

Next, Caldwell went on walks on his land, taking pictures of hunting blinds through the seasons with his still camera in order to be less static. This also resonated with his intrigue in walking and hunting from his youth. He then began to find and take pictures of discarded shotgun shells at these sites with a digital scanner. By doing all this that defined his work of the mid-2000s, Caldwell believes that he embraced landscape, a traditional aspect of photography, through a metaphorical eye.

Caldwell built on the importance of the digital scanner as a camera as he explained how he also interacted with the remnants of nature and hunting. He later collected dead birds, parts of birds, and milkweed (which gave the appearance of a bird’s skeleton) and discovered that taking pictures of these with a scanner held significance in that a picture was taken from the underside of these objects, producing an image not seen by the naked eye.

Caldwell’s lecture resonated with senior Chance Hazelton, who said, “I personally was looking at what he was saying about how the environment changes his work based on space and context.” This idea resonated because her in-studio SMP work is taking on a different visual language from her previous work done in her art classes.

At conclusion, Caldwell took questions from the audience and advised aspiring photographers to not limit themselves to materials and procedures they may be expected to engage in.

Filmmaker Kwame Braun Concludes TFMS Film Series

On Monday, Oct. 22 the sixth annual TFMS Film Series ended with a viewing of documentary filmmaker Kwame Braun’s film, “passing girl; riverside – An Essay on Camera Work”, in Cole Cinema at 8:15 p.m. The screening was free and open to the public producing a full-sized crowd consisting of students and faculty.

Theater, Film, and Media Studies (TFMS) Professor and TFMS Department Chair Joanne Klein introduced Kwame’s work and accomplishments and provided background on the function this year’s series on Ethnography and Alterity has served. The purpose behind these events was to bring awareness of filmmakers that focus on otherness and document a “crisis in the ethnography of filmmaking,” said Klein.

Students seemed optimistic about the film. Senior and film major Lisa Zimmerman said that she attended this event because she liked documentaries. Having previously viewed the film in her Documentary Practices class with Klein, Zimmerman said, “It’s a really cool film. I think everyone will enjoy it.” Senior Cello Pierce, who had also seen the film, said Braun was a good filmmaker and that the film was “packed with a lot of insightful information about documentary making.”

As noted on the event’s program notes, “passing girl” is a film that depicts Braun’s experience of returning to where he was born in Ghana in 1994. The film documented festival, dance, and other gatherings of Ghanaians, and also followed a theatrical company of comedians. The film, however, highlights some of the ethical issues with recording this culture.

In the beginning of the video, a young girl is filmed among a crowd at a festival, who notices the camera, welcoming its presence from a distance, and then looks away in disappointment; Braun noticed, here, that the camera took away the connection between himself and the subject, creating an imbalance in which he was in control of the image, posing the question of legal rights.

As the video progressed, Braun then emphasized that most pictures of Ghanaian people through history have been portraits instead of shots of everyday life because of this issue of permission. The opinion among many Ghanaians regarding picture or film is that such images will either be used for profit or to portray Africans as a backwards people.

In a group of scenes about the comedians, this problem started to be resolved. Filming this group taught Braun that Ghanaians were becoming increasingly aware of the importance of copyrights, as it was perceived that visual recordings could pirate the comedians’ material. Braun was able to shoot more freely when he bought rights to the group’s performances. The film captured daily life well in the village where Braun was born. Here, native dancing was taped, demonstrating that this particular group of Ghanaians could embrace their own customs because they knew Braun and understood the function of the camera. As a result, Braun could shoot freely and no longer thought of himself as an outsider.

Speaking to the audience about the making of his 24-minute video, Braun described how it was the first film he made after college and was unplanned with no research intent, but constructed from recorded observations. The genesis of the film, according to Braun, had to do with a discrepancy he saw between the “completely impoverished” Ghanaian standard of living and himself as a Western outsider.

Braun realized that the Ghanaians could be self-conscious about circumstances out of their control, with the result that money given to the Ghanaians could often change and distort the relationships between native peoples and foreigners. Through the process of filming, Braun had to learn to not do things that the people around him were not comfortable with.

Braun also noted the ethical dilemma in shooting footage of the Ghanaians, who have become more knowledgeable and sophisticated in film media. He claimed that Ghana has become “adept at taking [American] influences,” and inserting such media back into its own culture. Consequently, many Ghanaians often knew what he was doing with his camera and were often not willing to be filmed. Braun said that the documenting of everyday life, except in his specific birthplace, “was fairly minimal” and that obtaining permission to record others became crucial because he did not want to breech “some social contract.”

Thus, the film explores the questions of how to make the documentary process more equitable and what the implications are in returning to America as the filmmaker. Overall, Braun wanted to be able to shoot freely and, throughout the process of filming, desired to develop trust with the people in front of the camera.


Three New Faculty Lines to be Added

After a recommendation by the Academic Planning Committee (APC) during a Faculty Senate meeting earlier this semester, three new faculty lines will be added to the College’s chemistry, biology, and mathematics departments next fall.

Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Beth Rushing explained that funding was only originally provided for two positions. But since the APC decided that three departments were the most in need of new staffing, Rushing plans to pull existing resources to fund the third position.

According to President Joseph Urgo, those existing resources include accumulated budget savings from professors on sabbatical over the past few years.

“We asked all the academic departments to submit five to ten page proposals,” explained Rushing. The departments all had the opportunity to talk about their average class sizes, popularity of majors, and what things they could accomplish if extra faculty was added to their department.

“I knew many departments could make a strong case,” said Rushing. “But [the committee] found the strongest needs in those three.”

Urgo also noted that the science and math departments have seen a huge spike in student enrollment over the past few years.

According to Biology Department Chair Holly Gorton, the filling of these positions will be a significant help for the biology department and will “ease the staffing difficulties we are experiencing right now.” The biology department’s newest member will serve the neuroscience aspect of the department, but will also help teach the department’s most demanded classes, Principles of Biology I and II, and help advise St. Mary’s Projects.

She also noted that it will help extend the neuroscience minor within the department. “We haven’t been able to have a neurobiology course in years,” she said. “Without this addition, the quality of the program would suffer. We don’t just want to be able to hire adjunct professors; we want experience in the department. This new faculty member will allow us to have that.”

According to Gorton, all three new positions are set to be filled next fall, and she hopes to have some possible candidates on campus later this semester. Gorton also mentioned that she is excited about the coming addition to program. “We’re all thrilled to be able to do this,” she said. “[We have] gotten some great applicants so far.”