First-Year Student Enrollment Up 12%, Total Enrollment Tops 7,000

The bike racks are full, Houghton's rush minute is a few seconds longer, and there's a good reason why. More first-time freshmen are coming to Michigan Tech this fall—and total enrollment is higher—than at any time since 1983.

The numbers are buoyed in part by a boomlet in the number of 2008 Michigan high school graduates. "The increase in incoming freshman enrollment at Michigan's public universities is up about 4 percent overall," said John Lehman, the University's assistant vice president for enrollment services.

Michigan Tech's 12 percent increase, from 1,223 in fall 2007 to 1,365 this year, is driven by more than demographics, however. "Our students tell us they find us because of our academic reputation, the quality of the faculty and our job placement rate. They choose us because of our location and the friendliness of the campus community." Lehman said. "We made a conscious effort to promote our location, emphasizing recreational opportunities and the small-town atmosphere. In addition, we have targeted our financial aid at students who both need it the most and are most likely to succeed at the University."

Including transfer students, the total number of new undergraduates is 1,580, up 9 percent from 2007. The number of new female students has increased from 341 to 366.

Meanwhile, the quality of new undergrads by standard measures remains strong, Lehman said. The average ACT composite score for incoming freshmen holds steady at 25.6, with a slight increase in the ACT English score, from 24.2. to 24.4.

Enrollment in many bachelor's degree programs is up substantially, particularly environmental engineering, biomedical engineering, exercise science and computer science. New programs in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts are also a draw for students, Lehman said.

Total undergraduate enrollment is on the rise as well, up 3 percent to 6,033, due both to the surge in new students and a continued strong retention rate. And the number of graduate students is also up 9 percent, from 900 in 2007 to 981, hiking the University's total enrollment of both graduate and undergraduate students by 276 to 7,014, the highest in 25 years.

Since 2004 total enrollment at the university has grown by 468 students, over 7 percent. On-campus enrollment has increased by 14 percent, or 843 students.

"Our 2006 enrollment plan set the goal of 7,000 students by 2010. Beating that goal by two years is an indicator of this institution's vitality," President Glenn D. Mroz said.

Jacqueline Huntoon, dean of the Graduate School, credits in part more-intensive recruitment efforts for the fact that more students are coming to Michigan Tech. In addition, faculty research has attracted more outside support, providing better funding for many students. And a new University policy has resulted in hgiher stipends for students who have completed their course work and exams, making graduate education more attractive and affordable. This new policy makes it possible for faculty researchers to support additional numbers of students using the funding received from external sponsors.

The number of first-time master's students is up to 155 from 129, a 20 percent increase, with the number of entering PhD students showing a slight decline, from 72 to 67. Female students now make up approximately 31 percent of the graduate population.

"We hope to see the PhD numbers rise," Huntoon said. "Doctoral students are here the longest, do the most research and often make a major contribution to their discipline, so as a group they can make a huge impact on the University’s reputation," she said. "I’d like to see the incoming PhD numbers at around 100 each year."

The graduate program brings in significant numbers of international students, she noted. "Just as the diversity of our domestic students enhances the educational experience for all, our international students contribute so much to the campus and to our community."

Huntoon thanked both the academic departments and staff in the Graduate School who cooperate to assure that graduate students are enrolled early in the fall semester.

New Email, Calendar System Changeover Starts Sept. 26

Michigan Tech will begin the move to its new email and calendar system the evening of Friday, Sept. 26.

The new service, provided by Merit Network, Inc. of Ann Arbor, will replace MeetingMaker, HuskyMail and NotifyLink PDA conduits with the Zimbra Collaboration suite. For details, see .

In addition to costing less, Merit's services should also be more user-friendly and will be available to everyone at Michigan Tech, including students. You may continue to use email applications such as Thunderbird, Outlook or Mac Mail, if you wish.

The changeover is expected to be completed over the weekend. Email will be unavailable starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 26, and all services should be back on line by the morning of Monday, Sept. 29.

If the system conversion takes less time than expected, email service will be restored earlier.

The changeover is designed to be easy for everyone. You should not have to make any changes in your email software or access a different site for webmail. Huskymail users will automatically be directed to the new system.

The current HuskyMail system will still be available at .

Workshops on the system suite are now under way and will be announced in Tech Today and the Michigan Tech Lode.

Important Facts about the conversion

Current email users
• All of your email and folders (including sent, trash, inbox, etc.) will be moved to the new system.

• The campus will still be using the same anti-spam/anti-virus technology we enjoy today.

• If you have an existing email account, you will have an account on the new system, including email, calendar and file sharing.

• After the conversion, old Huskymail data will still be available (address books, etc.). Visit after the conversion.

Current MeetingMaker users
• Your calendar will move to the new system. Data from the past two years, at a minimum, will be moved.

• All of your events, contacts, and tasks will move, too.

• So will your calendar proxies.

• And, you guessed it, all of your guests are still invited, your rooms are still scheduled, etc.

• The only change: Some rooms have been renamed to make the room names more consistent across campus.

• If you are a NotifyLink user, you should not notice any changes. The new system will continue to synchronize devices such as Palm Pilots.

If you have any questions, contact Dan deBeaubien, director of information technology services and security, .

"Stately Greenstone" Museum Banquet and Ball Set for Oct. 11

The Seaman Mineral Museum Society has announced its 12th annual fundraiser ball for the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum: the Stately Greenstone Ball, in honor of Michigan's official gemstone.

The ball will be held at the Franklin Square Inn ballroom Saturday, Oct. 11. The evening will begin at 6 p.m. with a social hour and silent auction. A gourmet dinner follows at 7 p.m. and includes choices of bison, duck, walleye, pork or a vegetarian dish.

A short, live auction of some special items will be held, and the winner of the Charles A. Salotti Earth Science Education Award will be announced. Dancing to the music of the Uptown Swingsters will begin at 9:30 p.m.

For more details or to request an invitation packet for ticket purchase, please contact John Jaszczak, ,or call the museum at 487-2572.

"Chemistry in Comics" Seminar Sept. 15

Al Hazari, of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, will give a talk, "Chemistry in Comics" on Monday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. in Chem Sci 102.

Just as humor is most entertaining when its theme fits the
topic of conversation, comics that depict chemistry situations and/or materials are most effective as a teaching strategy when they reinforce a topic or concept students are currently studying. Hazari will present a variety of chemistry comics and discuss the learning situations into which they best fit.

Hazari is director of undergraduate chemistry labs, a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and teaches science education courses in the College of Education.

This seminar is sponsored by the Upper Peninsula Section of the American Chemical Society and is open to the public.

Workshop Saturday on Forest Road and Stream Crossing Techniques

"Forest Road and Stream Crossing Techniques for Forest Landowners," a workshop geared toward anyone owning or managing forest land, will be held Saturday, Sept. 13, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Force Center and Research Forest, in Alberta.

All interested persons are welcome, and registration is free.

The workshop is sponsored by the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Forest Stewardship Outreach and Education Program, and the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry program.

To register or for more information contact Jim Schmierer, or 487-2963, or Jim Rivard, or 487-2009.

"Chemistry in Comics" Seminar Monday

Al Hazari will give a talk, "Chemistry in Comics," on Monday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. in Chemi Sci 102.

Hazari is the director of undergraduate chemistry labs and a lecturer in chemistry at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also teaches science education courses in the College of Education.

Humor is most entertaining when it fits the topic of conversation. Equally, comics depicting chemistry situations and/or materials are most effective as teaching tools when they reinforce a topic students are studying. Hazari will present a variety of chemistry comics and the situations into which they best fit. This seminar is sponsored by the Upper Peninsula Section of the American Chemical Society and is open to the public.

New Funding

Associate Professor Andrew Burton (SFRES) has received $30,507 from NSF for the first year of potential five-year project totaling $151,628, "Collaborative LTREB Proposal: Long-Term Ecosystem Response to Chronic Atmospheric Nitrate Deposition."

Teaching at Tech: General Education and Science

by William Kennedy, director, Center for Teaching, Learning and Faculty Development

Is it possible, as a group of influential heavyweights in science education suggests, that many science majors are graduating from college without really learning to think like scientists? Is it also possible that many chemistry and physics students actually think less like chemists or physicists after they take their introductory chemistry or physics class? If a healthy dose of science education has these shortcomings for many science majors, one can't help but wonder how a much smaller dose of science course work serves the lifelong needs of non-science majors.

John Dewey observed near the beginning of the last century that the goal of science education should be to develop a "scientific habit of mind" in students. A student of Dewey later observed that a person possessing this attitude of mind would 1) show a willingness to change his/her opinion on the basis of new evidence, 2) search for the whole truth without prejudice, 3) have a concept of cause and effect, and 4) would make it a habit to base judgments on facts and theory. Who could argue with that?

His name is James Trefil, the Clarence J. Robinson professor of physics at George Mason University. He maintains that our apparent desire to produce incomplete little scientists out of non-science majors is fundamentally flawed. Trefil argues that limited exposures to course work designed for majors neither produces people who can do science, nor citizens who can understand and act upon the sorts of scientific challenges that will face them throughout their lives. In the real world, Trefil argues, scientific problems are almost always inextricably interwoven with political, cultural and economic overtones. First-year physics or chemistry, he argues, avoid such considerations, leaving students ill prepared to understand the challenges of the world in which they live.

An on-going Michigan State Survey of adults recently found that half the people surveyed think that the dinosaurs coexisted with humans. Half thought only genetically modified tomatoes have genes. Forty-five percent thought that antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria. More than half thought lasers work by focusing sound waves. Only 40 percent said that human beings evolved from earlier species of animals. Only 18 percent could define the term "molecule," 34 percent could define DNA, and a meager 15 percent knew what stem cells are.

Instead of one course in this and one course in that, Trefil suggests that non-majors should be exposed to the most fundamental underpinnings of a broader range of scientific disciplines. Trefil advocates a “Great Ideas” approach to teaching science to non-majors. This method would focus on teaching non-majors a relatively small number of scientific principles (conservation of energy, for example) which would then form the basis of understanding wider range of physical phenomena.

Trefil writes that such "great ideas form the skeleton, the framework, of our understanding of the universe, and they span all fields of science."

According to Trefil, non-majors should learn and be broadly able to interpret and apply foundational ideas such as an awareness that 1) the universe is regular and predictable, 2) the energy of a closed system is conserved, 3) heat will not flow spontaneously from a cold to a hot body, 3) Maxwell’s equations governing electricity and magnetism, 4) matter is made from atoms, 5) material properties are determined by the identity and arrangement of atoms, 6) in the quantum world you cannot measure an object without changing it, 7) the laws of nature are the same in all frames of reference, 8) there is a great deal of energy in the atomic nucleus, 9) the nucleus is made of particles, which are made of quarks, etc.

Michigan State recast its scientific general education curriculum by developing a faculty-driven consensus of eight common learning objectives in science and mathematics that are then woven throughout its beginning science and math courses designed for non-majors. It’s clear that improving scientific and quantitative literacy are fundamental components of producing an educated electorate that can understand, debate and express informed opinions about contemporary issues. Perhaps
basic scientific and quantitative literacy is a better goal for non-majors.