An extended field experience is one of the most important components of a curriculum in the earth sciences. For a variety of reasons, in the past decade many colleges and universities have had to reduce their field geology course offerings. A 2009 study by the American Geosciences Institute found that “the number of geoscience departments offering summer field course has declined by 65% since 1995.” Programs that remain are high quality but often too expensive for many students, many of whom need to work during the summer.
WHY THE THOMPSON FUND?
Dr. Allan Thompson was a principal faculty member teaching undergraduate courses and a dynamic member of the department from 1967-2005. He spent his entire career immersed in teaching the sciences that were his first love. In 1986, he was honored with the University’s Excellence in Teaching Award, which recognized his unrelenting dedication and deep commitment to the quality education and experience of the students whose futures he helped to shape. Known to his students as “Doc,” he will be best remembered for the many field trips he led to share his deep passion for the earth.
The merging of Marine Studies, Geology and Geography into the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment in 2009 has created an expansion of scope as well as revisions of curricula. While field experiences are currently required and can be fulfilled through internships , field camps offered by other colleges, or field-oriented courses during the semester they do not replace the extended (four to eight week) western field camps that were such an integral part of the program in the 1980’s and 1990’s under Dr. Thompson’s guidance. His dedication and passion took the excellent regional field geology program of the 1970’s, led by faculty members Bob Jordan, Bob Sheridan and Chris Kraft, literally to new heights with travels across the US to numerous field sites in Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota.
FIELD EXPERIENCE COURSE AT UD
A new field course that spans both the spring semester and the first third of the summer was launched this year under the next generation of leadership in Dr. Michael O’Neal. He has committed to leading the program if enough students are able to participate and envisions the program growing to a six week experience. Typical costs for any summer field course, whether at UD or elsewhere, are approximately $500-$600 per student per week including vehicles, gas, food, camp sites, expendables, and equipment losses. These are expenses that many students are unable to meet, in spite of the acknowledged importance of the field course for their education and degree.
The Thompson Fund will provide the extra funds needed to give students access to this critical component of a comprehensive geology education. It will provide the discovery learning experience that is a core value of the University’s Path to Prominence plan and it will prepare students for careers in which they will tackle complex problems from multiple perspectives.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
There is no better way to honor Dr. Thompson’s dedication to the UD field geology program throughout his career than by establishing this scholarship fund that will transform and inspire generations of future geology students.
Visit www.udel.edu/giving to make a gift to the Fund.
Answer “yes” to the question “Is this gift an honorary or memorial gift?
In the box “special instructions” indicate GEOL 462112 – Geology Field Studies- Allan Thompson