Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wichita State University Physics Dept. On The Chopping Block

Here comes another physics program that is slated to be "reoriented". The physics department, and degree program, at the Wichita State University in Kansas is being considered to be eliminated. I suppose if this is a school that emphasized mainly liberal arts subject areas, it is understandable. But WSU kinda sold itself as a school with a strong engineering program. So it is a bit confusing how they could hope to continue selling itself as that but lacks a physics department.

One also wonders if the data being used to argue for its elimination is outdated, as stated in the article.

But supporters of the physics department say demoting physics from a major to a grouping of courses would damage WSU's national reputation. The department chairman, professor Nick Solomey, said Miller's numbers are way out of date in that February study, and that Miller's proposal is destructive.

All the problems Miller cites did exist two years ago, Solomey said, when he was hired by the administration to revive the department. But he did revive it, he said; there are now 38 majors, and eight students graduating; there will be larger numbers in the year to come. The problem is well on it's way to being solved; the numbers trend is up, test scores are up, he said.

Other physics programs have had to face similar fate, with varying degree of success. We'll have to see how this turns out.



no said...

How, I ask, will they attract any decent professors to come teach physics (needed for all science and engineering disciplines) when they won't even have a physics department? What kind of research support would they expect to get?

And that would make WSU the only state university in Kansas without a physics major.

What a terrible idea, WSU.

luke said...

I was reading recently that many science fields were producing PhD's at a greater rate than job creation for those fields. The result was typical of any over supply situation. Pay, available jobs, etc. were going down. I am curious if you believe that Physics suffers from this issue and whether or not it is responsible for some programs to make the decision to stop granting those degrees as a remedy.