A Note from the Chair July 2012
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS AS OF JULY 3 2012. I'LL BE WORKING ON THE NEWSLETTER FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS. CHECK BACK OFTEN TO SEE HOW FAR ALONG I HAVE GOTTEN - or not. - Mike Binford
Welcome to the Alumni page of the Department of Geography's web site. The relatively slower pace of activities has opened a few moments to share news about developments in the department over the past year.
I was appointed the new department chair beginning August 2011. Pete Waylen stepped down after seven years with what should be a sense of satisfaction of a job well done. He left his successor a very strong department in terms of faculty collegiality, excellent relationships with the undergraduate student body, a growing group of majors, high graduation and employment (!!) rates for majors, an excellent group of graduate students, increasing endowments from donations by alumni/alumnae, and growing research support from multiple funding agencies. By all metrics our department is fulfilling the responsibilities of educating students and creating new knowledge through research, and doing them at the highest level.You might be interested in keeping track of alumni and alumnae from UF Geography by joining our new Facebook site “University of Florida Geography Alumni.” Regardless of how you feel about Facebook, the department has found that it is a useful way to keep alumns up to date on developments and on each other. The site now has 129 members and is growing by about five per week.
As many of you probably know, the State University System, the University of Florida, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences all sustained very large budget cuts, first from the legislature and second from the veto by the governer to all UF an increase in tuition beyond the allowed 15%. There is an enormous amount of press coverage of the long-term and national increase in university tuition, and much discussion of how the increases are driving the cost of a university education beyond the reach of the middle class of the U.S. I hope to remind you that UF is one of the lowest-priced major universities in the nation. Our tuition is the lowest of the members of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). UF tuition is the LOWEST in the SEC! Even Ole Miss and Mississippi are more expensive than UF. The University of South Carolina's tuition is 70% higher that ours. It is very difficult to maintain the quality of our work when resources are constantly reduced. Class sizes necessarily get larger. We can upgrade our teaching computer systems every five years instead of the three years that are recommended by both software makers and corporate IT directors.
Please view the pictures of the newly refurbished teaching room TUR3012 and the Poehling Computer Laboratory. TUR 3014 (“The Long Room”). Turlington 3018, formerly occupied by Dr. John Dunkle has been renamed the “Dunkle Laboratory” and a commemorative plaque placed outside. Plaques recording past winners of the Poehling (Graduate) and Dunkle (Undergraduate) Fellowships have been purchased along with one for the newly created Fik Award, generously supported by Dr. Tim Fik in the memory of his father. All of these improvements to the physical and academic environment of the Department have been supported by funds donated by alumni and faculty. We need to continue to receive your support to maintain these improvements, and I would like you to consider giving whatever you feel you can. To be accountable to you as a generous donor, I will detail the incomes to and expenditures from the department's UF Foundation Account at the end of each fiscal year (1 July - 30 June). It is important that you know where your hard-earned donations went. You should also know that all of the faculty members of the department donate something (ranging from $5 to $50 per paycheck) to our general foundation fund - we all believe in our department's well-being. You may also specify exactly where you would like your donations to go. Here are a few suggestions:
The General Fund: This is very useful for the chair to purchase valuable sundries like paint and new furniture, it is also used to purchase food for departmental academic functions such as the undergraduate Geography Society and Honor’s Society Gamma Theta Upsilon, for which State Funds may not be used.
Student Travel Fund: Our students, both undergraduate and graduate are the best advertisement we have for this department as we strive to become one of the best research and teaching departments in the country. Their participation at regional, national and international conferences is good for their personal and professional development. It also sends a clear signal to potential students, and their current advisors, that Geography at UF if a top quality department with a collegial and harmonious group of faculty and students.
Departmental Fellowships: Presently both the Dunkle and Poehling Funds are fully endowed ($30K) to generate the $1500 awards annually. Several large donations were received following the death of Dr. Dunkle, which has set this fund well on its way to a second endowment. The family of Ryan Poehling is offering to match any contributions that the department and alumni make to the Ryan Poehling Foundation, so any contributions you make in this regard will hasten our progress towards a second such award.
Graduate Assistant Fellowships: I surveyed other Ph.D. granting institutions in the state (FSU and USF) and region, and the top 20 NSF-ranked departments nationally, to determine levels of support for a basic teaching assistantship. The results clearly indicate just how poor a competitive position we are in. They also show that a few supplements of $1-2K would make us more attractive to the better students.
Drs. Storm and Jeanne Richards have almost completely endowed a foundation in memory of Dr. David Niddrie. Once endowed, this fund could be used to attract top quality graduates. The first priority is to completely endow this fund, and then to build towards another, either in David’s name or to create a “Geography Alumni Fellowship” depending on your preference.
Please feel free to contact me at any time with your news, comments or suggestions.
2007 CLAS Outstanding Alumni Award Recipient for Geography Awarded to Mr. Frank Catlett
Mr. Frank Catlett (BA 1973), President of Trigg, Catlett and Associates in Tampa, was the recipient of the 2007 Outstanding Alumnus Award. Frank and his family attended a College awards brunch along with former recipients Jeanne Fillman-Richards Ph.D., 1990), Storm Richards (Ph.D., 1987) and Dick Witmer (Ph.D., 1967). Frank has committed to a $20,ooo endowment, which we will use to generate a "Catlett Fellowship" to supplement the financial offers that we can make to outstanding graduate applicants. This is a wonderfully generous gift which will continue to improve our ability to attract the very best graduates to our program.
2007 Recipient of the John and Fawn Dunkle Fellowship Award
Cammryne Anderson is the 2007 recipient of the Dunkle Award. This award of $1000 is made annually to an undergraduate Geography major who shows sustained academic excellence, involvement in departmental activities, leadership and strong promise for graduate study. This year was the fourth year this scholarship was awarded. Previous winners are Jordan Wright (2006), David Rosenblaum (2005), Nicholas Campiz (2004), Cerian Gibbes (2003) and Lila Schaller (2002).
This year's student awards:
John and Dawn Dunkle Undergrduate Award: Cammryne Anderson
Gift from Harris Corporation:
Sponsor a Screen:
We are asking Alumni to donate $200 (or multiples thereof) to off-set
this considerable outlay, in return for which we will place a personalized
name plaque on a new screen and place their names on a wall plaque. Thus
we have received a total of $1600 in donations from Jeanne Fillman-Richards
(Ph.D. 1990), Kathy and Michael Harrison (Ph.D., 1998), Ryan Jensen (Ph.D.,
2000) , Storm Richards, (Ph.D., 1987) and Tari Innamorato Steele (B.A.,
1996). If you would like to contribute please send your checks to me,
payable to the Department of Geography, UF.
Keeping up with the news:
Ryan and his family are on their way to take up a new position at BYU
this summer. Tari is presently located in St. Louis, working for the National
Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and we look forward to the recruiting
visit she hopes to make to UF in the Fall. Storm and Jeanne's daughter
Emerson is a freshman at UF and kept up the family traditions in her course
David and his wife, Cheryl, had a baby boy this year.
This year I had visits from Tim Feather (Ph.D, 1991) and Mark McLean (MS, ) and his family. Tim was looking prosperous in his position as Strategy Leader for CDM Federal of Carbondale. I took personal delight in seeing that he had become a convert to Soccer through his children. Mark, an accomplished soccer player in his own right, received a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in 2003 and now works for an environmental consultancy company in that State.
Todd Albert (B.S., 1998) was awarded his Ph.D. this year from that unmentionable place up the road in northwest Florida. Todd, Julie, Sage and Noah are all heading up to Bowling Green State, somwhere that we can all talk about because of Urban Meyer !
Ed Borden (MA., 2003) has taken up a position as an Analytics Consultant .with MapInfo Corporation in Ann Arbor.
Juan del Valle (B.A., 1993, M.S. 1996), a former Outstanding Alumnus, has become a partner with CMC International in Dallas, Texas 75248
Kristen Conway -Gomez (Ph.D., 2000) and her family have now settled in at her new position at Cal Poly Pamona.
Another convoluted soccer link brought me back into contact with Wayne Walker (BA 1999). Wayne now lives in Jupiter, where he works as a GIS/CAD Technician with his wife and two boys, Tristan and Aidan.
Jeff Lower (B.A., 1992, M.S. 1996) and Beth Wilder (M.S. 1998) also swung through town in the Spring, along with their daughter Walden. They have fled the low lying dangers of Slidell, Luoisian and now live at a safer altitude in Huntsville, Alabama.
Kyle George (MALAS 1987), formerly a Lieutenant Colonel in US Military intelligence left his position as head of ROTC at 3 southern California universities to go back to law school at Georgia College and State University in his native Milledgeville.
Jordan Wright (BA 2006) took some time off to travel following graduation and is now considering a return to graduate school in Building Construction.
Josh Berger (BA 2006) has been accepted into the Masters program
in Geography at South Florida in the Fall.
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