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Earth sciences committee works to update Heroy Geology Building

The inflatable globe that greets students as they enter Heroy Geology Building is just the start of a campaign to improve the building’s facilities.

The earth sciences committee installed the globe last semester as a part of its plan to improve the reputation of the earth sciences department by renovating Heroy’s facilities, increasing donations and expanding opportunities for students.

Syracuse University alumnus Page Chamberlain, professor of environmental earth system science at Stanford University, is co-chairing the committee with SU alumnus Carlos Dengo. Chamberlain said he represents the academic arm of the committee, while Dengo serves as the industry arm.

The committee is renovating Heroy, Chamberlain said, so students can use it more effectively.

As co-chair of this committee, he said, he is trying to continue to improve the reputation of SU’s earth science department.

“The renovation is really a whole process of demonstrating to the world how important this earth science department is on campus, in New York state, nationally and internationally,” he said.

Jeff Karson, chairman of the Department of Earth Sciences at SU, also works on the committee with Chamberlain and Dengo.

Karson said the committee is trying to make Heroy look more like a place where people study earth sciences, instead of being nondescript.

“What we want to do is make some changes in the department that make it a more hospitable and engaging place to be,” Karson said.

Now that Karson’s biggest personal goal, the globe installation, has been completed, he said the committee is striving to fulfill more core needs of the department.

“We’re hoping our fundraising will provide money to allow us to make some nice seating and collaborative areas for students in the building,” Karson said.

These communal meeting spots would pop up in the currently unoccupied Heroy lobby, as well as a few elevator lobbies in the building, he said.

Karson said the committee is also hoping to supply the microscope lab with a high-definition projection system.

“What we’d really love to have would be named professorships,” Karson said. “And to try to build endowments that would support professorships, (post doctorates) and graduate students, among other things.”

Some earth science undergraduates go to expensive geology field camps during the summer for about six weeks, Karson said. The department would like to try and provide funds to offset the costs of these camps through generous donations from friends and alumni.

“The important long-term goal is to re-establish and maintain close, cordial communication with our friends and alumni so that they’ll want to come back and visit, and they’ll want to contribute to the department,” Karson said.

Chamberlain, an alumnus himself, said he thinks what the department is doing for earth science students is wonderful.

“Science is the future,” Chamberlain said. “Particularly for one group of people, for students.”

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