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University to offer astronomy minor

By Brian Boynton
On October 30, 2009

The university has allowed the physics department to change its name to the department of physics and astronomy due to the advent of an astronomy minor.

"The change in the name will better use the state of the art planetarium," Dr. Bao-An Li, head and professor of physics and astronomy said.

Li hopes the name change will bring more prospective students into the program as well as help them in applying for both educational and research grants from NASA. It could also bring in other external funding agencies.

The astronomy courses already on campus have grown in numbers from about 50 in 2005 to 126 students in spring 2009 Li said.

"Some of these students have requested more astronomy courses and expressed interests in getting a minor in astronomy," Li said.

The name change from department of physics to the department of physics and astronomy took place on June 16, 2009 in anticipation of the coming minor.

"In order to add courses or a minor it takes seven months to get approved," Dr. David Crenshaw, associate dean of the college of arts and sciences said.

According to Dr. Christine Evans, dean of the college of arts and sciences, the department has had interest in adding the minor for three or four years.

"The college of arts and sciences is the biggest on campus," Crenshaw said. "It has over 30 degree programs."

As of right now the college plans to keep astronomy as a minor, but Li has hope for astronomy's progression on campus.

"We hope to develop a major in astronomy in a few years," Li said.

There have already been three new courses approved by the faculty senate. No minor was taken away in order to make room for the new one, it was just simply added to the curriculum. Some courses may only be taken by astronomy minors; however, some classes, such as Archeo-astronomy, can be taken as an elective.

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