The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

The future of St. Joe’s science department

The+future+of+St.+Joe%E2%80%99s+science+department

Hopeful thinking for the USciences merger

Last week, St. Joe’s held its biannual Career Fair. At the fair, students had the opportunity to interact with representatives from companies that choose to send delegates to scout potential talent at St. Joe’s. The companies that attended the spring 2021 Career Fair looked very much like others have in recent years, with the majority of these companies seeking out business majors. Over the years, there have been notably few companies scouting talent in the sciences at St. Joe’s. 

This lack of scientific representation at the Career Fair hints at the truly critical issue of how our university values certain programs more than others. Enrollment in our natural science programs has decreased significantly. Fewer students interested in science are attending St. Joe’s, so fewer employers interested in hiring scientific innovators seek them out here.

This is a sad reality, especially because St. Joe’s was once a leading science school, as seen in the 1960s and 1970s when the program produced a scientist that would go on to become a leader in scientific research.

Just over a year ago, Eugene Mele ’72 won the 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. This is the most prestigious award a researcher can earn in the natural sciences next to the Nobel Prize. Since the time Mele and others like him were at St. Joe’s, our enrollment in science programs dwindled. Today, there are even rumors that some of our science programs will not survive the decade.

On Feb. 10, a university announcement sent shockwaves through the school. It was announced that our university signed a letter of intent to merge with the University of the Sciences, an institution devoted—above all else—to science. This led many to question why, after so many years of not investing in our natural science programs, is St. Joe’s considering merging with a whole university dedicated to them? 

It is no secret that science is the way of the future. For the sake of our institution’s survival, I hope that we will once again become one of those universities through the merger with USciences. 

Despite the fact that our science departments experienced decreasing enrollment, they witnessed unprecedented successes. Each year, our small physics, chemistry and biology departments graduate students that go on to achieve M.D.s and Ph.D.s in the sciences. We have four students every year apply to the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship in the natural sciences, and had two students selected as winners in the past four years. 

Given that the science departments achieved so much with so little funding, it is not difficult to imagine the successes we would achieve if our science departments were to be more adequately funded. I hope that we will see in the coming years a renaissance of the sciences at St. Joe’s. 

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