Eugene P. Odum School of Ecology, UGA
The Eugene P. Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia (UGA), named for prominent ecologist Eugene Odum, is part of UGA's College of Environment and Design. The school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in ecology and conservation, and seeks to encourage the public's ecological literacy through interdisciplinary research and study.
In 1967 UGA's Board of Regents formally established the school as the Institute of Ecology and provided funds to hire a director, administrative director, secretary, and technician.
At that time, Georgia had about twenty ecologists associated with various departments, schools, and centers. Eugene Odum, UGA's senior ecologist and a scholar of international renown, was appointed director of the institute. Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL), was appointed administrative director, and the institute members were drawn from zoology, botany, microbiology, geography, statistics, and geology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Forest Resources, the School of Environmental Design, the Marine Science Institute on Sapelo Island, and the College of Agriculture. Tenure-track faculty retained a primary connection with their colleges and schools, while adjunct faculty were often associated only with the institute.
Primarily a research institute, the Institute of Ecology provided an administrative home for multidisciplinary projects that exceeded the responsibility of other units within the university. In many cases active researchers were graduate students of faculty members of the institute, which provided these students academic services as well. Since institutes could not offer degrees, a proposal was written in 1970 to create a graduate faculty, which would offer a Ph.D. in Ecology. The graduate faculty operated as a separate body under the graduate school, with its own head, but the services and the continuity of the program were provided by the institute. Between 1970 and 2000, 213 Ph.D.'s were awarded.
The Okefenokee Swamp; in the tropics of Panama, as part of the Sea Level Canal project of the Atomic Energy Commission; and in Venezuela, as part of the UNESCO Biosphere project in the Amazon forest.
A service program was organized early in the 1970s as the institute received requests to consult on and solve environmental problems. Currently this service activity, which remains very strong, attracts many students and helps Georgia to solve problems of water- and land-use planning.
In the early 1990s the institute was reorganized as the School of Ecology within the Franklin College, but because it was so well known it retained its original name. This administrative change permitted the institute to develop and expand its educational offerings. A master's degree in conservation and sustainable development was the first new program added, along with a certificate program in conservation, followed by master's and bachelor's of science in ecology degrees. This allowed the institute to develop and teach a new curriculum for undergraduates within its research buildings. This was difficult to accomplish because the program attracted about 100 undergraduates as soon as it opened, and there were many other students who had an interest in the environment.
The complications associated with this growth led in 2001 to the organization of a new college, the College of Environment and Design, of which the Institute of Ecology is one part, associated with the School of Environmental Design and the Environmental Ethics Program, as the other parts. In 2007 the Institute of Ecology was renamed the Eugene P. Odum School of Ecology.
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