Policy Statements

Statement on the Proposed Closing of the Department of Geological Sciences at Michigan State University

This letter was sent to:
Dr. Kim A. Wilcox, Provost, Michigan State University and 
Dr. R. James Kirkpatrick, Dean, College of Natural Sciences, Michigan State University

On behalf of the Executive Committee of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, I am writing to express our dismay at the news of your recommendation to close the Department of Geological Sciences at Michigan State University. Such a distinguished research university needs the geological sciences, from geophysics to paleontology, particularly during this period of rapid global change. From global warming to water scarcity to renewable energy to biodiversity in decline, the geological sciences provide fundamental information as well as an urgently needed historical perspective on global changes. Geological research is typically well funded, bringing research dollars as well as recognition to the university. Students and the public are looking to basic research in the sciences relevant to global change for information, research, and leadership. If ever there was a time to fortify the geological sciences, this is it.

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology is a growing international scientific organization with over 2400 members. It is the premier scientific society that advances research and education about vertebrate paleontology. One of its most distinguished members, Michael Gottfried, is a professor in the MSU Geological Sciences Department. Paleontology fascinates students and the public and brings many people to the sciences that might not otherwise be interested. It is critical for students with geological and paleontological interests to have strong research universities, like MSU, for basic and advanced training.

I urge you to reconsider your recommendation to close the Geological Sciences Department. Its termination would be a great loss to the stature of MSU, especially in a state rich in geological resources—many of which are unique in the world. In the long run, MSU will be far better off with a vigorous Geological Sciences Department.

Sincerely,

 

Blaire Van Valkenburgh, PhD
President, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
University of California, Los Angeles

Catherine Badgley, PhD
Past President, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan

Philip Currie, PhD
Vice President, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
University of Alberta

Ted J. Vlamis
Treasurer, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Wichita, Kansas

Christopher J. Bell, PhD
Secretary, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
University of Texas, Austin

Ana M. Baez, PhD
Member at Large, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
University of Buenos Aires

Julia A. Clarke, PhD
Member at Large, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
University of Texas, Austin

Kristina Curry Rogers, PhD
Member at Large, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Macalester College