The Natural Sciences at Western Oregon University
The Division of Natural Science and Mathematics houses three science departments: Earth and physical science, biology, and chemistry. Outside of the majors and minors offered, the natural science program provides extensive academic contributions to the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum and general education requirements for all students on campus, regardless of major.
Over the last five years, the science programs have collectively experienced an increase in Student Credit Hour (SCH) production of over 36 percent with an annual average growth rate of over eight percent, greatly surpassing that of the overall university. To meet the needs of students and a shifting academic focus, particularly the expansion of the highly sought after OHSU nursing program, the campus community identified the construction of a new science facility as a critical need for all students.
Courses related to health care have seen the highest rate of growth. Our biology and chemistry curricula have seen total net gains of 43 percent and 79 percent respectively over the last five years. The rapid increase in enrollment in science SCH has placed a heavy burden on the science department to meet the needs of our students while managing facilities that are already at full capacity. As a result, the capacity problem is now being felt throughout the entire program and most notably at the introductory 100- and 200-level courses, which form the gateway to majors, minors, and careers in the science-related fields.
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