In 2001, a study of the role of research in the physical sciences at undergraduate institutions culminated at an educational conference primarily attended by college and university presidents at Fermilab, near Chicago. The study (Academic Excellence) was funded by five private foundations: Research Corporation, Keck Foundation, Welch Foundation, Dreyfus Foundation, and M.J. Murdock Charitable Trusts. Personnel who had also spent much of their careers at the National Science Foundation assisted them in the data analysis. The five foundations invited 136 institutions to provide data for the study; Fort Lewis College was one of these institutions.
At the Fermilab conference, John P. Schaefer, then President of Research Corporation, delivered the opening keynote address highlighting the Fort Lewis College Chemistry Department. As you will note, Schaefer remarks that the department “does a fabulous job… They find students. They inspire them.” The full text of the address is given here.
Colleen Thogerson collects electrochemical
data at Pacific Northwest National
Laboratory during the Summer of 2011.
Soon after the conference, an article was published in Chemical & Engineering News (a weekly publication of the American Chemical Society) summarizing the conference. Again, Fort Lewis College is highlighted.
The data collected in the Academic Excellence study was made available to the participants and public. The FLC Chemistry Department combined that data with data available from the National Science Foundation (NSF) database (WebCASPAR) for the same time period. Specifically, the NSF data on the baccalaureate origins of Chemistry PhDs was combined with the resource data of the Academic Excellence study. As the following spreadsheet indicates, the FLC Chemistry Department ranks extremely high in this comparison with a fraction of the resources available of comparable institutions.
This was not the first time that the Chemistry Department had been recognized nationally. Sheila Tobias, a noted author in mathematics and science educational reform (Overcoming Math Anxiety, 1978 and 1994, revised; They're Not Dumb, They're Different: Stalking the Second Tier, 1990), had previously highlighted the Fort Lewis College Chemistry Department for its ability to recruit new students to research students in her book: Revitalizing Undergraduate Science: Why Some Things Work and Most Don't, 1992 (Chapter 3).