CEOE 40th anniversary reception attendees (from left)
Lauren Jancaitis Sturgis, Jim Welch, Brandon Jones,
Chuck Epifanio, Ana Dittel, Ray Rodriguez, Carrie
Cunnane, and Cecily Natunewicz Steppe.
Photo by Lisa Tossey
More than 150 alumni and friends of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment attended a special reception to recognize the college’s 40th anniversary at Coast Day, Sunday, Oct. 3.
Gathering at the University of Delaware’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes for brunch before the Coast Day activities, a few of the guests discussed how CEOE shaped their careers.
Brandon Jones, who earned master’s and doctoral degrees in marine biosciences in 1994 and 2003, said that being a CEOE student gave him invaluable networking, professional development, and life experiences. Now a fellowship programs manager at the EPA, he travelled from Maryland for the event.
“It didn’t really matter who you worked for or what lab you were in,” he said. “There was a sense of community and family and it’s just good to see everybody.”
For alum Maryellen Timmons, who earned her doctoral degree in marine biosciences in 1995, being a student at CEOE helped lead to what she calls her “dream career.” Timmons said that opportunities such as working with UD’s Citizen Monitoring Program and participating in grant writing helped her develop much-needed skills for her job as a marine education specialist with Georgia Sea Grant.
She said she was delighted about the opportunity to visit her alma mater.
“I just got so excited just to have a little party with people that I haven’t seen in a long time,” she said. “It was a thrill.”
Some of the guests also took the opportunity of the anniversary to reflect on the college’s past and discuss its future. A framed collage called to mind historical milestones — the groundbreaking of Lewes laboratory buildings, the use of early research vessels, and much more.
Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Marine Studies Charles Epifanio, one of the original faculty members hired when the college formed, said he remembers when today’s Lewes campus area was a cornfield.
Today, the campus houses complex research facilities, the oceangoing R/V Hugh R. Sharp, and the new 2-megawatt wind turbine. CEOE faculty working at UD’s Newark campus span several buildings and labs as well.
Epifanio attributed the growth and strength of CEOE’s programs to the leadership of the college’s three deans: founding dean William Gaither, former dean Carolyn Thorougood, and current dean Nancy Targett.
“But really with any organization like this, it doesn’t come from the top if it’s going to fly, it comes from the people at the faculty level,” he said, explaining that it was the hard work and success of his peers who grew the college into what it is today.
Formed with a focus on marine studies, the college over the years has expanded its research and teaching expertise to include the full realm of earth, ocean, and atmospheric systems. Now it comprises departments of Geological Sciences and Geography and a School of Marine Science and Policy.
Asked about that growth, alums at the event had only good things to say.
“It was a natural, something that had to happen in order for the college to progress,” Jones said. “It provides more opportunities for the students and the faculty. I think it’s great.”