WMU News

Board approves two doctoral degree programs

March 20, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University will be adding two new doctoral degree programs to its list of offerings beginning this fall.

The WMU Board of Trustees March 20 approved recommendations to offer doctor of philosophy degrees in environmental chemistry and in paper and imaging science and engineering. The new degrees will bring to 25 the number of doctoral programs available at WMU.

The doctoral degree in chemistry builds on WMU's successful bachelor's and master's degrees in that department, which have been offered for more than 40 years. The University also offered a doctoral degree in chemistry from the late 1960s until 1988, when it was discontinued.

"A revitalization of the faculty of the department has occurred over the last eight years, including the recruitment of a new, research-active, outside chairman in 1997," said Dr. Timothy Light, provost and vice president for academic affairs. He was referring to Dr. Jay C. Means, a specialist in environmental chemistry, analytical biochemistry, organic geochemistry and genetic toxicology who came to WMU from Louisiana State University. He has received grants from several state and federal sources for his research.

"The doctoral program in chemistry with an environmental emphasis will allow Western Michigan University to reassume a leadership role in graduate education of chemists within the state of Michigan and regionally in a specialized area of chemistry which will not compete with but rather complement other chemistry and environmentally oriented educational programs," Means said.

The WMU program will provide students with a unique opportunity to receive both training in fundamental chemistry at an advanced level and specific interdisciplinary education and research experiences in aspects of environmental problems and issues. Graduates will be prepared for careers in academia, industry and governmental agencies.

According to Means, students trained in this interdisciplinary fashion continually are needed in the job market by industry and governmental agencies to solve, control or regulate environmental problems. In addition, increasing numbers of academic institutions are seeking chemistry faculty with this type of training and research experience.

The doctoral degree in paper and imaging science and engineering is a natural outgrowth of the education and research in paper and imaging science and engineering WMU has offered for more than 40 years, according to Light. The Department of Paper and Printing Science and Engineering currently offers bachelor's and master's degree programs and houses both paper and printing pilot plants, making WMU the only campus in the world with such facilities in one place.

"Currently, we are held in national prominence as a major supplier of engineering talent to the paper and imaging industries and as a resource to provide technical expertise," said Dr. Thomas W. Joyce, chairperson of the department. "The paper and printing pilot plants on campus handle industrial contracts of approximately $1 million per year. The faculty expertise has been developed over many years and is now exceedingly strong in both teaching and research. This Ph.D. degree in the next logical step in the development of our program."

The program is intended to prepare engineers and scientists for performing advanced research, for teaching at the university level and for work in industry. The emphasis of the program is on paper making processes, paper coating, paper recycling, printing technologies and related areas. According to a study by an outside research firm, there is a good job market for professionals in this specialty.

Both degree programs have been approved through the University's curricular review process and have been endorsed by the academic officers of the Presidents Council of State Universities.

Media contact: Ruth Stevens; ruth.stevens@wmich.edu

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