|A Final Letter from the Chair|
|Robert W. McColl (2003)|
Some of you already know, but let me inform the rest I will retire as of January 1, 2003.
I feel that I leave behind a Department that has grown in faculty, in professional stature and recognition and is among the best equipped for GIS and Remote Sensing research in the country. We have more tenured faculty and promotions than at any other time in our history. We have a cadre of truly outstanding young scholars who will continue the great traditions of the Department and lead us into new frontiers as well.
Today we have sixteen faculty, with the most recent addition being Professor Xingong Li in GIS. And, with the addition of Jerry Dobson, we are poised to really make a mark in applied Geographic Information Sciences - especially as they relate to our strengths in International Area Programs - especially Latin American Studies - and the entire range of both Human and Physical geography.
Financially, this is a VERY tough year for the University and Department. Still, significant opportunities have been created by a recent increase in student tuition. These monies are returned to the University for new programs and a wide-range of student-enhancing projects. Geography is a major player in all this. We have requested another joint position with Russian and East European and Slavic Studies and plan to enhance our efforts with Leslie Dienes. We have proposals for joint hires with Biology as well. In fact, joint hires (not the same as split appointments) are most likely to be the practice for the future.
The School of Education as well as Environmental Studies and Biology currently require their students to take our courses, and we remain essential to each of our nationally ranked International Programs. In addition, many programs and units across the campus use our students, especially in remote sensing, cartography and GIS.
Our students and faculty continue to garner awards and national and international recognition. You will note most of these in the letters from the faculty. However, some of our students have been especially noteworthy. Monica Moskal continues to garner national recognition for her work in Remote Sensing. Several of Peter Herlihy's students are out on Fulbrights doing field work.
We all also owe thanks to Johann Feddema and cohorts for an especially good Open House highlighting some of our research. The Deans and others made favorable comments and took home satellite mosaics of Kansas. This is immensely helpful to our program.
Our students have formed a Geography Club and will encourage majors, graduate students and faculty to participate. Funds from the Kollmorgen Geography Fund will be used to help start the program, but they are committed to raising their own funds to the extent possible. Still, we will create a new Endowment Fund - in addition to the Jenks and Kollmorgen Funds - solely for use by the students for purposes they determine are most important to them. The other funds will continue to provide supplements for special needs.
As most of you know, there is no way anyone could achieve these results without the backup of a Super Secretary such as Beverly Koerner. Chairs come and go, but the continuity and details essential to success remain firmly in the hands of this marvelous person. Geography will surely face a Rubicon when she retires. I am glad I beat her to it.
I will remain around, but largely I will be invisible. It is time to complete some unfinished research, do my own writing and travel even more. It is time to do this while I still have the energy and drive and can leave the Department at the top of its form.
It is a great department with outstanding alumni. I thank all of you that have provided such strong support over the past 7 years.
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