School of Marine and Environmental Sciences Dedicated
Posted on December 2, 2021
The University of South Alabama officially opened its new School of Marine and Environmental Sciences with a dedication and ribbon cutting on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021.
The ribbon cutting was held at the school’s new space in the University’s Education Outreach Building, on the north side of campus. The remodeled 20,000-square-foot space includes a teaching auditorium, classrooms and laboratories.
The School of Marine and Environmental Sciences was founded to provide additional space and resources for programs in the College of Arts and Sciences that have grown over the past decade. USA is the only four-year university in Alabama located near the Gulf of Mexico, and many of the University’s marine science faculty also are senior marine scientists at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, which offers marine programs for 23 public and private colleges.
“The school capitalizes on our strategic location on the Gulf Coast, and allows us to expand opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students in these areas,” said Dr. Andi Kent, interim provost and senior vice president. “It will help further our mission to provide exemplary educational opportunities with extraordinary faculty and leading research in the field.”
As South begins a new era of coastal education and research, plans call for new undergraduate and graduate programs to complement the existing degrees that have been offered by the department of marine sciences.
“We can make a much larger impact by developing younger scientists,” said Dr. Sean Powers, director of the School of Marine and Environmental Sciences. “We can use the draw of the marine world to attract good students to South.”
The school plans to expand current degrees, including the Master of Science in Environmental Toxicology program, Master of Science and Ph.D. programs in Marine Sciences, and Master of Science in Marine Conservation and Resource Management. It will also plan to launch two new bachelor’s degrees including majors in environmental and sustainability science and marine sciences.
The school also will create a new master’s degree in marine and environmental spatial planning and analysis. All new programs are subject to approval by the University and the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.
Four professors of environmental science are expected to be hired over the next four years, and the school hopes to draw 80 new undergraduate students.
“Our faculty does research from Alaska to Antarctica,” said Powers. “We have an international reputation. We want to bring new students to South, students who wouldn’t have come without these programs.”
The School of Marine and Environmental Sciences recently received a $2 million grant from the State and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the Healthy Ocean Initiative and an $11.7 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to track and count greater amberjack to ensure sustainable fisheries. NOAA has also sponsored a $2.8 million research program for the school to survey Mobile Bay. RESTORE – Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies – focuses on declining populations of important species such as oysters, blue crabs and spotted sea trout.
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