About Macon State
Jennifer Austin, right, talks to Dr. Kim Pickens, assistant professor of biology, during lab. Austin plans to pursue the bachelor of science in biology at Macon State.
By Sheron Smith
This spring, Macon State College welcomes two newcomers to the growing roster of four-year programs: bachelor's degrees in biology and mathematics. (See FAQ about new degrees.)
For students such as Jennifer Austin, that's great news.
Austin, an aspiring physician, had reluctantly planned to transfer to some other institution until the College added her major.
"Macon State has a great reputation, and I wanted to stay," said Austin, 20, a junior who lives in Roberta. "I had already gotten used to the biology professors here, and I know what they expect of me and what I expect of them. It's exciting to be one of the first students in the new program."
With the addition of bachelor's degrees in biology and mathematics, all of the College's academic divisions now have four-year programs to offer students.
"We don't plan to stop there, of course, because there is a demonstrable need in this region for other baccalaureate programs," said President David A. Bell. "But it is a milestone of sorts that we now have a broad range of four-year degrees that covers many of the career interests our students have. For students who want to become anything from network administrators to schoolteachers to medical doctors to statisticians to accountants, Macon State now offers them an entryway to those professions."
The University System of Georgia's Board of Regents earlier this year authorized Macon State to offer bachelor of science degrees in mathematics and biology, both scheduled to begin this spring semester on January 8. The programs will kick off with selected upper-level courses, with full launch scheduled for fall 2007.
The new degrees, offered through the Division of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, bring to 10 the number of bachelor's programs Macon State College offers.
Matt Furman, center, listens to his instructor in calculus class. Furman will be one of the first students in the bachelor of science in mathematics program.
Originally an early childhood education major, Furman, 27, saw information about the math degree on the College website and immediately changed his academic plans. He wants to become a high school math teacher.
"I'm a left-brained person and I've always liked math and science," said Furman, a native of upstate New York who recently resumed his college education after working full-time for several years. "I want a career where I can help people."
Natural sciences and mathematics faculty involved in developing the programs look forward to teaching the junior- and senior-level courses.
"By drawing on the considerable strengths of our mathematics faculty, we have created a good and solid program that will give students the skills they need to be successful in industry, government or education, said Dr. Barry Monk, assistant professor of mathematics and coordinator of mathematics programs. "This degree is timely since there is such a great demand for people with a strong background in mathematics, and it is also rewarding to know that we are helping to prepare future high school math teachers."
Dr. Ron Clay, assistant professor of biology, said a bachelor's degree program means faculty will get to share a greater depth of their knowledge with students.
"The Macon State science faculty is exceptionally diverse, with collective expertise encompassing the animal, plant and microbiological sciences," he said. "Students majoring in biology will have greater access to this diversity and will in turn help them become knowledgeable, confident and competitive graduates.
Dr. Donna Balding, assistant professor of biology, said she looks forward to seeing the bright students she encounters in her introductory courses in the upcoming advanced classes.
"Students who would have moved on to earn their biology degrees will stay here and become our baccalaureate alumni," she said. "That's good for students and faculty."