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A new doctoral degree program in chemistry at Old Dominion University got the green light on Tuesday, May 9, from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. The university will begin accepting applications July 1, and the program will be launched this fall.

"We have set the bar at a higher level," said Richard Gregory, dean of the ODU College of Sciences. He sent a celebratory e-mail to administrators and faculty members who were involved in the intense effort to get the program.

Philip Langlais, dean of graduate studies and associate vice president for research, said the doctoral degree program in chemistry is "essential to achieving our goal of becoming one of the nation's top 100 public research institutions." He pointed out that chemistry, like physics, mathematics and biology, are fundamental components of our country's biomedical and basic science research and education agenda.

"Our faculty and key administrative leaders have successfully made the case that ODU has the ability and desire to meet the growing demand within Hampton Roads, Virginia and the nation for doctoral-level chemists trained to tackle our most pressing biomedical, environmental and basic science problems," Langlais said.

Joseph Rule, associate dean of the college, and Kenneth Brown, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, were at the SCHEV meeting in Winchester on Tuesday, prepared to defend the degree proposal, if necessary.

"But we were not asked a single question," Rule said. The proposal was approved unanimously by the academic affairs committee and, then, by the full council.
Alan Edwards Jr., director of policy studies and acting director of academic affairs and planning for SCHEV, wrote in a note to Gregory that the unanimous approval with no questions represented the "best possible scenario, an A-plus" for a proposal that was "so tight it left no doubts."

"This is a significant enhancement to our department," said Brown. "With it, we can attract top-quality graduate students and top-quality faculty members who would not come to a non-Ph.D.-granting department." He said some grants are awarded only to researchers in departments with doctoral degree programs.
Rule said there are already master's students in chemistry at ODU who have said they will apply to the program. "There has definitely been interest expressed," he added.

The ODU Board of Visitors gave its approval to the program in December. Since then, the chemistry and biochemistry department has undergone an external review, and the proposal has been promoted in various forums by administrators from the science college, as well as by Langlais. SCHEV staff members had compiled a favorable report on the proposal prior to Tuesday's meeting.

The university projects a 2006-07 enrollment of 10 chemistry doctoral students, with the number jumping to 40 by 2010-11.

This article was posted on: May 10, 2006

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