GS ranks nationally for African-Amercian physical science graduates

Tandra Smith

Georgia Southern University’s physical science department, which includes astronomy, physics, geology and chemistry, was ranked number four in the U.S. for African-American graduates this year by the publication Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

Since 2010, GS’ ranking has varied from being as low as number 19 to as high as number three nationally. Where GS ranks depends on how many students end up graduating in that particular year.

“We’ve [the department] seen for the last four or five years that we’ve been on the list so it fluctuates depending upon everybody’s [other school’s] numbers,” John DiCesare, chemistry department chair, said.

According to Diverse’s website, a total of 21 male and females graduated with a degree in astronomy, physics, geology or chemistry in 2015, a percentage change of 91 percent compared to 2014.

DiCesare and Brian Koehler, associate dean for curriculum and advising in the College of Science and Mathematics (COSM), cite many reasons as to why they believe that the physical science department graduates many COSM students.

“Within chemistry and physics, our first year classes are still small. They’re limited to 48 students, so we don’t have the big 300-400 student lecture halls,” Koehler said.

Koehler also credits approachable advisers, alumni with good jobs, and most of all, the hands on approach of the COSM department. He believes all of these are appealing to many different students.

“We’re so hands on. Most of our classes still have labs and it’s not usually an option. I think students want to see the practical application and you can see that versus applications on a board,” Koehler said. “I think that appeals to a lot of students.”

Blessing Odion, graduate student, believes the university should be proud by this accomplishment since they have moved up in the ranks since 2010.

“I think that it is a feat to be proud of by all students and faculty in GS. I will give kudos to the university management, faculty and staff in the physical sciences for doing a great job in the apparent balanced admission selection process,” Odion said.

Odion cites the annual STEM festival put on by Georgia Southern as a good indication that the university is committed to science majors. He believes that with African-Americans doing well in STEM majors, it only means good things for the future.

Odion said, “Solid education is the bedrock of development in any given society. With African-Americans doing great in physical sciences, we are about to see even a greater America.”