A Letter From the Chair
Welcome to the Geography Department Fall 2016 Semester. As I look forward to the coming semester, chaos will reign, as many exciting changes will envelop the Geography Department! As of August 16th, I am now the new Department Chair, and I am looking forward to my coming term with much excitement.
I have been a part of the Geography Department for the last 14 years, and served as Associate Chair for the last 18 months. My own research and interests involve coupled natural-human systems and I focus on remote sensing of land change, climate variability, parks and protected areas, and time series analysis. I was lucky to spend this past summer in Zambia and South Africa, working in National Parks across these regions, with Dr. Brian Child from the Geography Department and the Center for African Studies, and a number of our graduate students. I look forward to the exciting challenges ahead, and I ask for patience from my husband Mike, and our boys, Romer and Parker ?! Below is a short message about recent achievements for our program and upcoming plans you may be interested to hear about.
The University of Florida hired Academic Analytics to review every Department and Program in the University and to provide updated rankings. We are delighted to announce that our program is now considered a Top 10 Geography Program in the United States! While we have all felt we are a major contender for a while now, it is rewarding that the rankings are starting to reflect this. In addition, we have just introduced two new undergraduate degrees: the BA and BS in ‘Medical Geography in Global Health’ – MGGH for short, which includes a pre-health track to attract those in the medical fields and interests.
We have also added to our undergraduate certificate offerings, with the newly approved ‘Geographic Information Technologies’ certificate at the undergraduate level, and we plan to add a graduate certificate, too.
Our online undergraduate degree and associated minor, introduced last fall as a response to UF developing an increased presence in the online arena, is also growing, adding another 15-20% to our undergraduate numbers. Our incoming graduate class this fall numbers 14, one of our largest classes in years, predominantly at the PhD level and spread across various fields of interest in the program. Our Department is raising more external funding than ever before and is positioned in the top six Departments in funding
raised within the college for 2015-2016 (both in absolute numbers and as dollars raised per faculty member). The upcoming year, looks to hold even more promise!
This Fall semester will see much needed changes occurring in the Department, as we get the classroom, teaching labs and main departmental spaces painted, and the main office space fully renovated. The recent flipped classroom renovation will be completed and allows faculty much more flexibility in their teaching environment. A new additional space – the‘ ThinkTank’ has been obtained and created and the ‘Ryan Poehling GradLab’ will soon be outfitted with new machines. These renovations will occupy much of the fall semester and we appreciate your patience during these renovations. Looking ahead, we plan to continue to build on our recent successes and you can expect to hear more from us across the upcoming year. Increased connections with alumni are planned, including the inauguration of a returning alumni colloquium speaker series – highlighting both our academic and business focused alumni. Keep an eye out for more news and announcements from us. To keep in touch you can follow the Department on Facebook (including the UF Geography Club and UF Geography Alumni) and Twitterand as always you can email us as we would love to hear from you.
Looking forward to the coming semester with great anticipation
Dr. Jane Southworth