Senate Document Number 1400S
Date of Senate Approval 2/10/00
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Statement of Faculty Senate Action:
APC Document 9: Creation of a Biochemistry Concentration within the BA Degree in Chemistry
Effective Date: Fall, 2000
Add on page 75, 1999-00 catalog, after "III. Other departmental . . . . .competency in chemistry."
"Concentration in Biochemistry
I. Required courses in the major--37 -40 hours, including: CHEM 111, 144, 222, 223, 231, 232, 314, 334, 412, 415, 416, 436; BIOL 344, 444; one additional 300 - 400 level BIOL, approved by department chair.
II. Required courses outside the major--16 hours, including MATH 191, 192, PHYS 221, and 231 (or 222).
III. Other departmental requirements--Chemistry Department Comprehensive Examination; a grade of C or better in CHEM 415 to demonstrate oral competency; and a grade of C or better in CHEM 416 and 417 to demonstrate both a practical and a written competency in chemistry.
This change does not impact the day-to-day function of the Chemistry Department or its students. All of the chemistry courses that are being required are currently being taught on a regular basis. The immediate impact upon the departments of Mathematics and Physics would be minimal in a worst-case scenario and would most likely be of no impact since students already majoring in chemistry would simply be reclassified within the department. The immediate impact on biology is also expected to be minimal since they are already offering the courses that are required and the number of students currently interested in this option is relatively small. However, the hope is that as this concentration becomes established and the admissions office has the opportunity to use it has a recruiting tool, more and more students will be selecting UNCA because of this biochemistry option. The impact of this increased enrollment can then be handled through normal administrative channels for resource allocation since these students, who are currently fulfilling their desire for biochemistry elsewhere, will be bringing new resources to UNCA. This change will not impact major, minor, or University requirements, the education Department's Licensure Programs, or other departments that require chemistry courses.
As was mentioned above, the world of chemistry has historically been divided into four major areas, analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. Biochemistry and other "lesser" areas have historically been categorized as sub-areas of specialization that would require a student to concentrate their studies and not broaden them. However, times have changed. The technology explosion of the last twenty to thirty years has allowed biochemistry to become a major area of science that bridges the historically separate studies of chemistry and biology. This can be seen in our own state in the size and importance of the impact that Glaxo Wellcome and the rest of the Research Triangle Park biotech firms have had on the economy of North Carolina. Also, Glaxo Wellcome's impact can be seen at the university level with the significant financial support they have already given to UNC-Chapel Hill and UNCA. If UNCA expects to continue its growth as a National Liberal Arts College, as classified by the Carnegie Foundation, compete successfully with other institutions with the same classifications for the highest quality students and external support and resources, and meet our obligations as a public institution in a state where biotechnology is an important force, an option in biochemistry is a must. Not only would biochemistry be attractive to students interested in biotechnology, but it would also be of interest to students with career aspirations in the health professions.
While students currently have the option of creating their own major, high school students interested in biochemistry, medicine, pharmacy, and other health related fields, and their parents seem to prefer a more substantial option that is clearly integrated into the university curriculum. Data in support of this can be seen in the relative percentage of incoming freshman expressing an interest in pre-medicine. The advising program this summer identified twenty-six students who indicated an interest in pre-health programs of study. Obviously, there are additional students within the freshman class who are interested in going to medical school. However, the number who indicated it on their applications is important since many selective liberal arts institutions typically report 25-50% of their incoming freshmen as being interested in pre-medicine. It is also important to note that of the twenty-six students verbalizing an interest in medicine, over half of them have a record that is indicative of not being successful in a pre-health curriculum (i.e., SAT scores below or near 1000 and class ranks below the top 10%).
It is with the above issues in mind and the recognition of the difficulties and time associated with creating a new major at UNCA that the Chemistry Department proposes the creation of a Concentration in Biochemistry within the BA degree option in chemistry. The approach allows for a formal biochemistry option for current and prospective students with minimal impact on current resource levels. If the anticipated success of a biochemistry option is realized, additional resources necessary to meet the resulting demand would be warranted and handled through normal UNCA channels. The consensus of participants at a PKAL Biochemistry Workshop this summer (July 16-18, 1999 at Macalester College, attended by Professors Krumpe and Holmes) was that biochemistry programs were not a drain upon existing biology and chemistry departments. Most institutions saw their number of traditional majors remain at least constant, if not increase, as the number of biochemistry students grew. UNCA's admissions office has already indicated that they would find this biochemistry concentration to be a valuable recruiting tool. In addition to stimulating growth within the sciences, this option would also help to improve all programs across campus by bringing more top-tier students to UNCA. Support for this can again be seen at the selective liberal arts institutions that have 25-50% of their freshmen indicating an interest in pre-med studies. Since these schools typically have retention rates well above 80% and do not place 100+ students per year into medical school, much of the attrition in the pre-med program is attributable to students changing their career goals and majors.