A New Look at the World
UD’s new College of Earth, Ocean and Environment embarks on a mission that extends far beyond the Delaware coast.
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Epifanio knows the bay well, having been a professor in the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies, based in Lewes, since 1971. For the past three years, however, he hasn’t had as much time to fish. His college has changed its name and broadened its mission.
In July, its 40th anniversary, the College of Marine and Earth Studies became the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment. It is not only an academic institution, but, now, an environmental steward for the world.
“When you combine the earth, the ocean and the environment, you’ve pretty much got it all,” says Epifanio.
The college traces its roots to 1950, when local fishermen, alarmed by a decline in Delaware Bay fisheries, asked the Delaware General Assembly for help. The legislature responded by allocating $30,000 to establish a marine biology program at the University of Delaware.
In 1976 UD became the nation’s ninth sea grant college and an increasingly important center for marine research. Officially designated as the College of Marine Studies in 1970, it was a graduate college until 2006, when the department of geological sciences came aboard. CEOE now offers classes for more than 200 undergraduate majors on the Newark campus and research opportunities around the world for 160 graduate students.
“Environmental science by its very nature is global,” says Epifanio, an associate dean. “The university intends that this college be a leader in environmental sciences, and this merger couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Never before has the threat of severe climate change and the need to regulate it been so crucial. “More and more, the basis of our mission brings in the human condition, the link between science and society,” says Dean Nancy Targett. “Your name is your brand, and these new directions we’re making are reflective of the fact that the earth, the ocean and the environment don’t exist as individual silos.”
Targett began at UD in 1984 as a biochemist. As part of her study, she lived in an underwater laboratory off the coast of the U.S. Virgin Islands and did research on the coral reefs in Belize, the Bahamas and Jamaica. She became dean of CEOE in 2006. She also serves as director of the Delaware Sea Grant College Program.
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