The Department of Biological Sciences is experiencing a tremendous enrollment boom, thanks to growth both within and outside the department. The Department offers six distinct baccalaureate specializations.
All of these areas have healthy enrollments—Bill Retzlaff, associate professor of biological sciences and chair of that department, currently counts 742 students as majoring in department programs.
Biological Sciences Growth
|Course||2003-2004 enrollment||2009-2010 enrollment||Increase|
|Biology I (Animal Sciences)||163||360||120%|
|Biology II (Plant Systems)||199||333||67%|
An extremely high number of students are seeking degrees in the medical sciences specialization. This concentration provides undergraduate coursework as preparation for professional programs in the fields of medicine, pharmacy, veterinary, dental medicine, chiropractic and other allied health areas. Additionally, the success of SIUE’s School of Nursing and the new School of Pharmacy, which admitted its first class in 2006, are impacting the biological sciences department. Biological sciences faculty teach Human Anatomy and Physiology, which is required coursework for all nursing majors. Enrollments in the first Anatomy and Physiology course have jumped from 88 in Spring 2004 to 260 in Spring 2010, a 195 percent increase.
Although the number of faculty members in the Department of Biological Sciences has increased—from 14 when Retzlaff began at the University in 1999 to 24 currently, with three additional instructors and two lab coordinators—crucial lab and teaching space will not free up until the completion of the new Science Building Complex. The lack of teaching space puts a tremendous strain on the program.
“This semester (Spring 2010) there are 20 lab sections being taught in an off-campus facility (which opened in University Park in January 2009)” Retzlaff said. “Before we relocated, these lab sections were taught during the evenings and on the weekend in the Science Building.”
Retzlaff said that enrollment in the department’s graduate programs has increased as well, with 32 graduate teaching assistants currently on contract to help teach undergraduate laboratories. In 2004, there were 17 graduate students doing the same work.
And it does not appear as though the popularity of biological sciences will die down any time soon. “We have just passed through BANNER (the University’s student management program) enrollment for current students for the Fall 2010 semester,” Retzlaff said. “Currently, 1,847 students have enrolled in classes in the Department of Biological Sciences. With the expected freshman enrollments this summer, we will approach 2,200 students in fall classes—one of our largest fall course enrollments ever.”