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Two programs saved at Nicholls

THIBODAUX – Targeted for elimination earlier this year by the Louisiana Board of Regents, two Nicholls State University degree programs have since been deemed necessary and worthy of protection by the board. The six-year-old geomatics program and the seven-year-old marine and environmental biology graduate program will continue to operate, budget cuts notwithstanding.

Designated as low completer programs in recent years – mainly because of their relative youth – the programs have since grown in enrollment and graduation rates, leading the Board of Regents to revise its recommendations.

  • Geomatics

Louisiana’s only four-year degree program in land surveying and mapping, the geomatics track was developed at the request of the Louisiana Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors to meet the educational requirements of applicants seeking registration as professional land surveyors.

Founded in 2003, the program’s current enrollment is 54 – with a total of 12 graduates to date. As a result, geomatics faculty have requested an accreditation visit in November 2009 by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

These advances have led the Board of Regents to conditionally grant a continuance for the growing program for an additional three years, pending reevaluation.

“The need for professional land surveyors and professional mappers is far and wide,” said Dr. Terry Dantin, department head of applied sciences, geomatics coordinator and professor of geomatics. “These professionals are involved in land development, construction, oil and gas exploration, disaster restoration, monitoring coastal erosion and wetland reclamation, processing geographical information and many additional applications. The geomatics faculty at Nicholls will continue to develop the program to meet the requirements of the Board of Regents and to meet the demands of the profession.”

For additional information, call (985) 448-4692, or visit the program’s Web page at www.nicholls.edu/doas/degree-programs/geomatics/.

  • Marine and Environmental Biology Graduate Program

Founded in 2002, the Master of Science degree program in marine and environmental biology trains students in coastal restoration, biofuel alternatives, water quality, environmental health, toxicology and other areas. With a current enrollment of 30 students and a total of 24 graduates to date, the program – like geomatics – has been granted a continuance by the Board of Regents for an additional three years, pending reevaluation.

“The marine and environmental biology graduate program has received wide support from regional industry and businesses, which offer internships to students as well as jobs following their graduation,” said Dr. John Doucet, distinguished service professor and interim department head of biological sciences. “One hundred percent of program graduates are either contributing to the marine and environmental workforce or are busy earning doctoral degrees.”

Randy Landry, general manager and principal in charge of environmental services at the Houma-based environmental consulting firm T. Baker Smith Inc., said his business “has benefited greatly from the marine and environmental biology master’s program. We have been able to recruit and hire several talented associates with the skills we need to serve our clients.”

For additional information, call (985) 448-4700, or visit the program’s Web page at www.nicholls.edu/biology_graduate/.

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