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Atmospheric science

Dean's Blog: From the Dean: Science instructional growth and creative engagement

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm
Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

Let’s face it. We are navigating uncharted waters. New leadership within a pandemic that upended our day-to-day on all levels. Yet we must take time to recognize and celebrate our strengths and successes.

In a previous newsletter blog post, I shared our college is at the heart of Mason’s R-1 research success; over the past year, we generated the largest share of Mason’s research proposals receiving more than $32Million for funded research. (This was even the answer to one of the ScienceConnect trivia questions last week).

Well…we can also take pride in the fact that the College of Science is fueling Mason’s growth on the instructional side as well.  As of Friday, September 4, 2020, our college had an overall enrollment growth of 5.3% and an increase of over five thousand credit hours (7.2%) vs prior fall semester. This is the second biggest growth in the college’s history and a leading contributor to the university’s fall enrollment growth.

Some of this is due to new programs; the climate dynamics (AOES), neuroscience, and forensics science programs are bringing in many new students. Kudos also to our Computational and Data Sciences department which is experiencing double digit growth across all undergraduate and graduate level course offerings. And, just as exciting, we’re also seeing growth in the traditional sciences like chemistry, systems biology, and physics and astronomy as well.

Yet today, I want to highlight a department that led our College’s overall credit hour growth for the fall 2020 semester: Mathematical Sciences.

Mathematical Sciences experienced a 17.5% increase (ranging from 7% to 48% credit hour growth) across each class level. And the department needed to make many adjustments since COVID19 changed the way we delivered our instruction. From re-imagining exam protocols and modifying summer instruction for incoming students, to modifying the Mathematics 3D printing lab to make masks for front line workers, building the new CMAI summer seminar series which reached hundreds of people around the world, and being one of the largest faculty and staff groups to participate in last week’s ScienceConnect, the faculty and staff in Mathematical Sciences have been creative, supportive and resilient during this transformative time. Thank you all for your efforts.

Surely this tremendous growth encourages us to note it’s critically important to be creative problem solvers, adapt to our new normal as best as we can, and remain collegial, engaged, and supportive of one another. Please continue to share stories of your successes. They will be celebrated.

We know this year will be different. And we are starting it off strong. I continue to encourage you all to diligently follow the Safe Return to Campus guidelines. Take the daily COVID health assessment. Keep mask wearing and social distancing a priority. Let’s continue to lead by example.

Stay safe, stay connected and keep making your Mason memories,


Visit the Dean's Blog for more insights from Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm.