University of Arkansas Launches Geosciences Doctorate

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The department of geosciences in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas will soon offer a doctoral program.

“This is a milestone for the geosciences department, Fulbright College, and the University of Arkansas,” said Roberts, dean of the Fulbright College during the department’s annual Spring Scholarship Banquet, held Thursday night. “It happened because a visionary team of alumni, faculty and professionals saw a need and met it.”

The program was officially established after approval by the Arkansas Board of Higher Education at its meeting on April 27 at NorthWest Arkansas Community College.

“Arkansas previously was the only state without a Ph.D. in geosciences,” said Provost Sharon Gaber. “The University of Arkansas has now resolved this issue. The university can help address the need for highly specialized geoscience research teams to work on issues in natural resources and energy, rather than sending our top students out of state.”

Scholarly activity, research expenses and graduate enrollment have steadily increased in the geosciences department throughout the past decade. Due to rapid growth in the natural resource sector, highly trained professionals with knowledge, skills and experience are in high demand.

The new program will provide doctoral-level training for students in areas needed for these competitive careers. The University of Arkansas has the ability to provide a unique experience in graduate research and instruction through its Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies and other training opportunities that are unavailable at other schools in the region.

“Industry requires a Ph.D. program to fund significant research,” said Eddie Valek, chair of the geosciences external advisory board and a geoscience manager for Marathon Oil Co. in Houston. “Doctoral level research can be conducted on a broader scale, and address more complex trends and issues. Having this program will help all students, even those not pursuing a Ph.D. Industry will hire more of our geoscience master’s-level graduates and at better terms because of their exposure to this level of research.”

“Doctoral programs attract more industry collaborations, which will allow the program to continue growing and to attract and retain the highest quality students and faculty,” said Gaber.

The doctoral program follows a series of advancements within the department of geosciences, including securing over $2 million to establish an endowed faculty chair and master’s-level graduate assistantships.

“The new Ph.D. program contributes to the university’s research standing and reputation,” said Roberts. “The enhanced research projects, revenues and industry contact that a Ph.D. program brings will benefit everyone within the geosciences department — undergraduates, master’s candidates, Ph.D. candidates, post-docs and faculty.”


Darinda Sharp, director of communications
School of Law


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