As of next fall, Castleton State College will be the only Vermont state school with a chemistry major. In recent years, admissions officials have reported that chemistry is one of the most requested majors for incoming students.
But a new major requires new faculty.
“In order to do this, we need more people, we need more expertise,” said chemistry professor Andy Vermilyea. As a result of that need, the college will be hiring three new staff members, Vermilyea said.
The science department is excited for the new chemistry major, but they’ve run into another problem.
“We’re going to need more space!” said department chair Tim Grover.
With the addition of a new physical chemist, lab coordinator and exercise science teacher, it’s obvious they will need more room.
“We need more lab space,” Vermilyea agreed. “As you can see, I’m kind of in a dungeon back here, so that shows you how tight we are for office space.”
Although new lab space will not be finished by next year, that won’t stop the major from being implemented into the college.
“I’m a new faculty member, but I’ve had this in the back of my mind,” said Vermilyea. “I’ve been wanting to get it going for a while, and I think it would fit in really well with the curriculum we already have. We anticipate that this will help the college grow.”
Students are excited about the new major as well.
“I think it’s long overdue,” said CSC Science student Caleb Walkins. “Adding a chemistry major will improve the college greatly.”
Vermileya and chemistry professor Livia Vastag have began writing the new curriculum and hope to put finishing touches on it with the new staff this summer.
Throughout the process, Vastag has contributed greatly. But she has one concern.
“The trick is that we need to show that there is sufficient student interest. You can’t start a major without any students who are interested,” she said.
Vermilyea also has the same worry.
“Filling upper level courses is definitely a fear until we get our first freshmen group all the way through,” he said.
Senior Erik Ciocca won’t be here to benefit from the new chemistry major next year, but his thoughts are positive.
“Expanding the science department will bring more students to the school. The bigger the science department the better.”