Together with our new Vice Chair Dar Roberts, welcome back to UCSB and the Geography Department. The Department is continuing its perpetual process of modifying courses, changing research focus, and courting new sources of governmental and private funding. In addition, we are undergoing two forms of external review this year: the University’s Program Review and the National Research Council’s National ranking of departments within the field of Geography. Our department has been highly ranked in the past, and we expect to do well now. Finally, we welcome our new graduate students, staff, and faculty.
During the last few years, our department has been able to hire new faculty even in the face of a slowdown in overall UC faculty recruitment. We have been lucky to hire two excellent new professors in the area of human – environment relations and a third who crosses between physical geography and human – environment relations. Hallie Eakin and David Carr are providing us with fresh course offerings and new graduate mentoring directions (Eakin: Geog 2- World Regions; Geog 145 – Environmental Hazards. Carr: Geog 141A/241A- Population Geography; Geog 241B- Population, Development, and the Environment; Geog 155/255- Geography of Latin America). They are both very energetic and truly fired up about their work. Be sure to take a look at their course offerings and talk with them about their research interests. Annemarie Schneider teaches airphoto interpretation and several of our remote sensing classes, as well as bringing an exciting research direction to the department. She works on using remote sensing, knowledge of physical constraints, and policy analysis to understand patterns of city growth in different cultural settings. Her work is a great example of geographic meta-analysis at the intersection of technology and policy. Recently, we hired Martin Raubal to bolster our GIScience program. Martin will arrive on campus early next year and will begin teaching in the spring quarter, 2007. Martin’s research is in the area of geographic information science, especially questions about relationships between geographic information systems, such as web-based mapping and direction services, and human thinking, decision-making, and communication. He addresses these questions with a combination of empirical studies and formal computer models of human language and behavior.
The budget provided to the Department by the University of California appears to have stabilized, albeit at a level that is unsustainable in the long run. We continue to negotiate for more funds to support staff levels and graduate students, including more teaching assistantships. We have also been enhancing our fund raising efforts. Our Development Committee has drawn up a blueprint to identify donors, to cultivate lasting relationships, and to increase operating revenues, Departmental endowments, and capital projects that will enhance the quality of the learning experience. We have established a stewardship program that specifically recognizes past donors, keeps them informed about department affairs and how their resources are being used, and invites them to participate in departmental social events. In this coming year, we will initiate a Corporate Partners Program, initially targeting 3-4 prospective partnerships. Currently, the Department is creating two donor brochures: a general brochure detailing department funding priorities for 06/07, and one that is targeted specifically to the Phelps Hall Renovation. They will highlight the following potential donation priorities: 1) an Endowed Chair in GIS; 2) 5 Graduate Student Fellowships @ $36,000/ea; 3) $50,000 in unrestricted funds; 4) Completion of the $30K for 30 endowed Undergraduate Student Fellowships; and 5) Named space in the Phelps Hall Renovation Project.
We have suffered a large turnover in staff recently and are scrambling to recover before the beginning of the fall quarter. During the summer, Michelle Keuper, one of our long time favorite staff members, took a job in the Dean’s office; Andy Krone, our Network Administrator, left for greener pastures; Kathy Murray, our Undergraduate Advisor, became the MSO at Law and Society; and Jennifer Bowen, our Receptionist, moved to Pasadena. We wish them the best of luck with their new efforts. We have now hired Manny Silva, Purchasing/Travel/Recharge Assistant; Laura Harrison, Undergraduate Program Assistant; Jose Saleta, Administrative Assistant to Prof. Golledge; and Kathy Davis, Graduate Program Advisor–please stop by the office and introduce yourselves when you get the chance. We are also searching for a new Network Administrator. In view of budget cuts and staff replacements, we have modified job descriptions in ways that should provide more efficient service. Please bear with us as we get everyone trained.
I too am learning about the Chairship. Feel free to contact me with comments and suggestions.
Best wishes, Oliver Chadwick