The Chemistry program is getting a redesign that cuts down on redundancies and makes it easier for students to customize their degree for their future professional life.

Dr. Mike Ducey is the Chair of the Chemistry department. He’s co-authored several publications in his field, and was awarded the Jesse Lee Meyers Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007. He also helped in the redesign of the Chemistry degree.

“It’s not a whole lot different than what we had before,” Dr. Ducey said. “What we did in the redesign was to create some efficiencies between the Chemistry program and the Biochemistry/Molecular Biology program, so that we’re using a lot more of the same courses for the same purposes.”

For 40 years, the American Chemical Society has given the MWSU Chemistry department the standing to certify their degree because of the laboratory hours and the equipment available to students; and this doesn’t change at all with the redesign.

“It was really important to us as we were going through the redesign to make sure that we kept that mark of quality associated with the program,” Dr. Ducey said.

The redesigned Chemistry program is more streamlined than before, with less overall hours required while still keeping the essential learning and experience in place.

“We were able to cut a significant number of hours out of the degree program that we had in there before,” Dr. Ducey said. “It was very prescribed and it kind of got very prescribed a little bit because of our interpretation of our requirements for certification and a little bit because over time if you don’t prune a little bit, they get overly large. So the good news is that we were able to cut those hours out, so it’s really easy now for a student to pick up a minor.”

The idea behind the redesign was that prospective Chemistry students would be able to customize their chemistry degree their own way by pairing it with a minor.

“We’re putting together these career paths where a student can take the B.S. in Chemistry degree and pair it with a minor and still be able to do exactly what they were doing.” Dr. Ducey said. “For example, if you want to come and do Forensic Science, your degree wouldn’t say, ‘B.S. Chemistry - Forensic Science,’ it would say, ‘B.S. Chemistry’ and then you’d have a minor in Criminal Justice.”

The Chemistry department already had strong connections to other departments, as many of the Chemistry curriculum before had overlap with their course, such as with the Criminal Justice department or the Biology department. Open communication between all the departments on campus allows students to build their own degree with the help of an advisor.

The department is working to grow, to bring in more students and hire more professors to handle the course workload. But that task comes with many challenges, being on a short deadline and with COVID restrictions in place.

“Because we had to go to the state to have the new degree approved, we weren’t able to start to do the recruiting for this until February.” Dr. Ducey said. “So it hasn’t been that long that we’ve had this available and to start to get this message out.”

And with COVID limiting the number of high school visits, spreading the word hasn’t been easy.

“Recruiting right now for any department is really kind of tough because it’s not the environment we’ve all figured out how to work best within.” Dr. Ducey said. “We weren’t able to do a lot of the events that we would typically have done where we have contact with those high school students who might be interested in a chemistry degree.”

But, even with the challenges, the department is enthusiastic about the future of the new degree, and the future of Missouri Western.

“Hopefully next year everything’s going to be back to the new normal,” Dr. Ducey said. “The new normal that allows us to have campus events and be able to go out and make contact with high school students and tell them about all the great things that go on here at Missouri Western.”

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