Department of Geosciences


Strategic Plan



Mission Statement


The Department of Geosciences emphasizes research and education in the physical, chemical, and biological processes that shape Earth and how these relate to society. We train professional earth and atmospheric scientists for careers in industry, government, and education and we provide high-level integrated science literacy to students in other disciplines so that they may become the decision makers of the twenty-first century.



Vision Statement


The Department of Geosciences aspires to the highest standards of excellence in all aspects of teaching, research, and service. It recognizes that the Geosciences serve as the basis for any fundamental understanding of environmental processes, natural resources, and natural hazards. As such, the Department strives to maintain a faculty that is recognized nationally and internationally for contributions to their specific disciplines and to maintain programmatic strengths in severe storms, petroleum geology, geophysics, paleontology, geochemistry, and crust-mantle processes. To this end, our vision is to meet present and long-term regional and national needs for water and petroleum resources. The Department proposes to grow by (1) strengthening the emphasis in petroleum geology and (2) developing a research and teaching program in geohydrology and water resources management. The Department will also seek to add a faculty member who will strengthen the emphasis on pedagogy, distance learning, and outreach.


Goals, Critical Success Factors, and Objectives (including Strategies and Assessments)



Goal 1.  Access and Diversity:  Become the university of choice for all Texans majoring in the Geosciences


Critical Success Factors

·        Increase long-term enrollment and diversity.

·        Improve undergraduate preparation and participation.




Objective 1.1:       Increase graduate and undergraduate diversity and numbers.



·        Make greater recruitment effort at national and regional meetings, continue use of web-based communication, and develop fully web-based application process.

·        With addition of new faculty in petroleum geology and hydrogeology, place greater recruiting emphasis on these fields.

·        Encourage faculty presentations at schools with large numbers of traditionally underrepresented student groups. Provide lists of speakers and topics to traditional minority colleges.

·        Make professional connections with teaching colleagues at regional four-year institutions.

·        Seek funding to develop short courses targeted to minority undergraduates.

·        Involve students, especially minority students, in recruiting.

·        Develop one or more honors Geoscience courses.

·        Use scholarships, advertising in monster classes, and guest lectures in monster classes to attract undergraduate majors.

·        Develop an undergraduate Geophysics option with Atmospheric Science emphasis.



·        Numbers and diversity of graduate and undergraduate students.

·        Numbers of students who continue to graduate school.

·        Numbers of students and schools requesting information, campus visits, talks from faculty.

·        Number of undergraduate Atmospheric Science courses available.


Objective 1.2:       Enhance graduation success.



·        Work to recruit better-prepared students to the undergraduate program.

·        Monitor SAT and GPA of incoming majors.

·        Increase emphasis on mentoring of undergraduate students.

·        Encourage undergraduate research projects and senior theses.

·        At the MS level, develop one or more formal monitoring practices, such as:

a. Student or thesis advisor produces a progress report each semester.

b. Student presents a technical seminar at least once per year.

c. Student’s thesis committee reviews progress once per year.

·        Revise and implement Department policy for admission and evaluation of Ph.D. candidates.

·        Monitor time to degree completion for undergraduate students.

·        Track success of students, where success is defined as finding employment or advanced education that utilizes the students’ training.

·        Track and compile statistics for timing and progress of MS students, taking into account the variable needs for leveling courses.

·        Track timing and success of Ph.D. students through completion of the comprehensive exam.



·        Number of students employed.

·        Number of Ph.D. students completing comprehensive examination.

Goal 2.  Excellence:  Meet the highest standards of performance in teaching, research and service.


Critical Success Factors.

·        Establishment of criteria for research and teaching excellence.

·        Development of Departmental standards for research and teaching excellence.

·        Achievement of research and teaching excellence.




Objective 2.1:       Strengthen local and regional research efforts by enhancement of the research emphasis in petroleum geology and hydrogeology.



·        (top priority). Seek funding for new faculty with emphasis in petroleum exploration and development.

·        (second priority). Seek funding for new faculty with research emphasis in local groundwater resource and pollution issues.

·        Seek additional funding to strengthen the Pevehouse Chair in Petroleum Geology.



·        Numbers of graduate students with interests in these fields.

·        Numbers of graduate students who enroll in these fields.

·        Levels of financial support for faculty and student research in petroleum geology and hydrogeology.


Objective 2.2:       Place a serious focus on EC-12 science teacher training.



·        Seek funding for a faculty member who coordinates service courses and laboratories, trains TAs in pedagogy, and works to improve science education at Texas Tech.



·        Track numbers of students that choose an earth science specialization.


Objective 2.3:       Enhance academic activity.



·        Develop and institute a mechanism for Departmental assessment of faculty productivity by appointment of an ad hoc committee to develop assessment procedures.



·        Number of publications, level of funding, mentoring, teaching, and outreach to monitor annual and long-term productivity.


Objective 2.4:       Enhance the quality of undergraduate and graduate programs.



·        Review and revise the Geoscience curriculum to promote greater use of higher mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, and computers.

·        Develop one or more capstone courses and/or require senior thesis or project.

·        Consider development of “earth-system science” package for science teachers.

·        Develop an evaluation form for Geoscience majors classes.

·        Develop an undergraduate Geophysics option with Atmospheric Science emphasis.

·        Revise and implement Department policy for graduate student admissions and evaluation at both MS and Ph.D. levels.

·        Develop a means for evaluation of student achievement at the end of the Geosciences program. [Exit exam?]

·        Continue to monitor student curricula, with emphasis on students completing course work in sequence.



·        Monitor student destinations (prestigious graduate schools, industry, government).

·        Exit interviews to determine student satisfaction with the program.

·        Performance of TTU students at other schools’ field camps.

·        Numbers of enrolled students.

·        Numbers of students who continue to graduate school.

·        Compile and monitor GRE scores and GPAs of students admitted to the Graduate program.

·        Determine if correlation exists between graduation success (time to graduate, thesis quality) and admission criteria.


Objective 2.5:  Enhance the interaction with the Wind Science and Engineering (WISE) Center.



·        Incorporate research activities of WISE in courses at all levels.

·        Support cooperative grant writing with other members of WISE.

·        Fund student recruiting trips for component WISE departments.

·        Submit joint papers to peer-reviewed journals.

·        Increase participation on thesis/dissertation committees for WISE departments.



·        Number of undergraduate students who express an interest in working in WISE.

·        Number of submitted and successful joint grants.

·        Applications for admission citing WISE.

·        Number of submitted and accepted journal articles.

·        Amount of committee participation.

Goal 3.  Engagement:  Promote community connections (on and off campus).


Critical Success Factors

·        Document increase in Departmental activity in petroleum geology and hydrogeology.

·        Achieve increased visibility in the community via school visits and visitor traffic in the Science Building.

·        Document usage of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) short courses and distance learning courses.


Objective 3.1:       Provide high-level GIS education to the local and regional community.



·        Offer short courses and summer classes.

·        Develop distance learning courses in GIS.

·        Complete development of the GIS research and teaching laboratories.

·        Seek funding for one or more new technical staff to assist in laboratory operation and instruction.



·        Enrollment in GIS classes and short courses.


Objective 3.2:       Establish the Geoscience/Geographic Information and Technology Center as a resource center for maps, information, and computer access.



·        Determine requirements necessary to establish a “Center” and work to meet them.

·        Train Reading Room personnel to handle high-tech resource dissemination.

·        House the new U.S. Geological Survey digital databases in the Reading Room.

·        With the guidance of the Dean, develop mechanisms for team building with other units in the College.

·        Advertise uses of the West Texas Mesonet and its web page.



·        Number of Reading Room users; distinguish among students, faculty and the public.


Objective 3.3:       Increase visibility among the public, EC-12 students, and the media.



·        Explore development of Geosciences magnet program at Estacado High School.

·        Promote the dinosaur exhibit at the TTU Museum.

·        Improve displays in the Science building and advertise them.

·        Provide speakers lists to schools and organizations.

·        Provide contact lists to the media.

·        Support science fairs.

·        Provide information and training about severe storms.

·        Provide articles and Departmental research to local publications.

·        Continue participation in Severe Storms Awareness Week.

·        Continue participation in Science Day.

·        Begin plans for participation in Earth Week.

·        Supervise high school students and faculty in summer research projects.

·        Develop and advertise use of clays as aerosols for cloud seeding.

·        Establish a format for documentation of results of community outreach, provided by faculty and staff in Annual Reports.



·        Number of presentations: to whom, by whom?

·        Changes in requests for presentations (on an annual basis).

·        Number of visitors to Department and their interest (GIS, maps, assistance with fossil, rock, and mineral identification, mineral displays, seismic displays, etc.)


Goal 4.  Technology:  Maximize effective use of modern technology in teaching, research, service, and recruitment.

Critical Success Factors



Objective 4.1:       Provide high-level Geographic Information Systems education to TTU students and faculty.



·        Maintain active role in the Consortium of Geographic Information Science.

·        Complete development of the Geographic Information Systems research and teaching labs.

·        Hire one or more technical staff to assist in lab operation and instruction.

·        Develop Geographic Information Systems and image analysis web pages.

·        Coordinate with courses offered in Economics/Geography.



·        Amount of interest expressed by the public and students.

·        Enrollments in Geographic Information Systems classes.

·        Number of hits on Geographic Information Systems web page.

·        Increases in use of Geographic Information Systems in theses and dissertations.


Objective 4.2:       Increase the available analytical and experimental equipment.  



·        Seek funding for laboratories and equipment comparable to other Big 12 schools.

·        Seek funding for laboratory and analytical support staff.

·        Renovate the Science Building. Add a wing to the building to accommodate better and more extensive teaching and research facilities.



·        Amount of increases and improvements in analytical capability.

·        Number of equipment users.

·        Number of publications citing lab data.


Goal 5.  Partnerships and collaboration:  Work with other agencies and institutions.


Critical Success Factors

·        Maintain and expand collaborative research, locally, nationally, and internationally.

·        Increase the number of cross-disciplinary grants, publications, and reports.




Objective 5.1:       Enhance integration of geological and atmospheric sciences.



·        Identify and advertise cross-disciplinary courses.

·        Develop an undergraduate Geophysics option with Atmospheric Science emphasis.

·        Explore possibilities of expanding the Science Building to house both groups.



·        Number of co-authored papers and proposals.

·        Number of non-majors in upper division classes.

·        Numbers of cross-disciplinary students.

·        Numbers of cross-disciplinary students continuing to graduate school.


Objective 5.2:       Continue collaborations elsewhere at TTU.



·        Continue collaboration in Wind Science and Engineering Research Center.

·        Continue collaboration with TIEHH and biohazards program.

·        Continue collaboration with Water Resources Center.

·        Continue collaboration in Center for Applied Petrophysical Studies.

·        Continue collaboration with Museum.

·        Continue cooperation on campus to achieve academic excellence and insure student and faculty utilization of GIS-related technologies.

·        Continue collaboration with Mathematics faculty.

·        Develop a Center for Advanced Drug Formulations with TTUHSC.



·        Numbers of collaborative papers and proposals.


Objective 5.3:       Continue external collaborations with:



·        Continue collaboration with petroleum industry.

·        Continue collaboration with government agencies. NIST, National Laboratories (National Severe Storms Laboratory, National Hurricane Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory).

·        Continue collaboration with Texas seismic network. USGS and UT-Austin.

·        Continue collaboration with domestic universities. e.g., Univ. of Wyoming, SUNY-Albany, UT-El Paso, Texas A&M, Woods Hole, UT-Austin, Univ. of Oklahoma.

·        Continue collaboration with international universities and agencies. e.g., Univ. of Montpellier, Univ. of Gottingen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norwegian Geological Survey, Nordic Volcanological Observatory, Indian Statistical Institute (Calcutta), Univ. of Tuebingen, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (Beijing), National Museum of Natural History (Buenos Aires).

·        Continue collaboration with regional analytical consortium with NMSU, NM Tech.

·        Provide faculty with appropriate resources for travel related to collaborative work.

·        Maintain facilities that encourage visiting faculty.

·        Utilize Big 12 research connections.



·        Numbers of publications and proposals, including relative contribution of Texas Tech University faculty.


Objective 5.4:       Establish the Geoscience/Geographic Information and Technology Center as a resource center for maps, information, and computer access.



·        Determine requirements necessary to establish a “Center” and work to meet them.

·        Train Reading Room personnel to handle high-tech resource dissemination.

·        House the new USGS digital databases in the Reading Room.

·        Continue to improve facilities and equipment to maintain Federal Repository status.

·        Appoint steering committee to determine future directions of Map Library (resources, technology, accessibility, etc.)

·        Advertise uses of the Mesonet and its web page.



·        Number of Reading Room users; distinguish among students, faculty and the public.


Goal 6.  Human Capital:  Enhance the quality of the work experience in Geosciences.


Critical Success Factors

·        Establish Departmental baseline of activity aimed at improving work experience.

·        Initiate strategies to enhancing the work experience.

·        Document success of the strategies with measurable outcomes.


Objective 6.1:       Hire excellent and diverse faculty, academic professionals, and staff.



·        Facilitate spouse/partner accommodations whenever possible.

·        Provide resources to facilitate the promotion and retention of excellent faculty, professionals, and staff.

·        Identify peer institutions and advocate for pay and resources that meet or exceed those offered by our peers.

·        Advertise staff openings in local and regional minority media.

·        Encourage staff to participate in Staff Senate and other appropriate groups.



·        Diversity of applicant pools using EEO and Personnel office data.

·        Diversity of hired faculty, academic professionals, and staff.


Objective 6.2:       Promote and retain faculty, staff, and professionals and to increase job satisfaction for all employees.



·        Find additional resources in personnel and support needed to carry out the highest quality of research, teaching, and service.

·        Provide orientation for new employees that clearly articulate expectations of them.

·        Work to find appropriate travel funding for faculty and staff.

·        Provide tangible and intangible rewards when faculty, professionals, and staff do excellent work.

·        Evaluate and strengthen mentoring programs for faculty, professionals, and staff.

·        Maintain fair and constructive review processes, as in annual reviews, tenure and promotion reviews, and post-tenure reviews.



·        Faculty, academic professionals, and staff retention rate.

·        Faculty, academic professionals, and staff exit interviews.


Objective 6.3:       Enhance Teaching Assistant (TA) training.



·        Specifically assign pedagogical duties to TA coordinators (part of job definition).

·        Develop seminars for teaching TAs to teach.



·        TA classroom performance.


Objective 6.4:       Revise Geosciences committee structure.



·        Include Atmospheric Sciences in Geosciences committee structure.

·        Appoint an Awards Committee.

·        Assign implementation of specific parts of the Strategic Plan to committees.



·        Revised committee structure.


Goal 7.  Tradition and Pride:  Project a strong positive image locally, regionally, and nationally for Geosciences.


Critical Success Factors

·        Enhanced distribution and readership of the Geosciences newsletter.

·        Increased faculty and student participation in commencement exercises.

·        Increased student activity in professional and honorary societies.

·        Improved facilities for conferences and receptions.


Objective 7.1:       Establish a formal publication procedure and deadline for the newsletter.



·        Assign specific faculty and staff members to work on the newsletter, with specific rewards or workload adjustments.

·        Continue updating mailing list; increase distribution to non-alumni friends of the Department for inclusion on the mailing list.



·        Document publication dates of the newsletter.


Objective 7.2:       Encourage faculty and student participation in University functions.



·        Formalize Departmental graduation receptions. Specifically invite graduates and families.

·        On a rotating basis, assign specific faculty, students, and staff to organize graduation receptions, with specific rewards or workload adjustments.

·        Revive an annual reception for alumni, e.g., at Homecoming.

·        On a rotating basis, assign specific faculty, students, and staff to organize alumni receptions, with specific rewards or workload adjustments.



·        Amount of faculty and student participation in such events.


Objective 7.3:       Encourage and support student honorary and professional societies in the Department.



·        Provide tangible and intangible rewards for faculty advisors of student groups.

·        Support student-organized field trips.

·        Provide appropriate meeting places for student groups in the Science Building.

·        Draft plans to renovate Science 123 for meeting and conference use.

·        Seek funding to renovate Science 123.



·        Numbers and activities in Departmental societies.

·        Comment record of guests and Department to enhanced meeting place.

Goal 8.  Institutional Advancement:  Engage in academic fund-raising and marketing.


Critical Success Factors


Objective 8.1:       Increase fund-raising for academic programs, including scholarships, fellowships, professorships, chairs.



·        Develop and implement a plan for outreach and fund-raising to alumni and friends of the department. Coordinate with Office of Development.

·        Continue to increase emphasis on meeting alumni at professional meetings, particularly AAPG, SEG, GSA, AUS, and AGU.

·        Develop talking points to guide faculty when discussing fund-raising with alumni and friends.

·        Involve appropriate senior faculty, emeritus faculty, alumni, etc. (e.g., Don Haragan).

·        Expand web page for alumni to post news and other information.

·        Continue publication of the Geoscience newsletter. Distribute news about accomplishments and events to alumni and friends.

·        Coordinate news of alumni accomplishments with the Ex-Students Association.



·        Amount of donations from alumni, industry, and friends of the Department.


Objective 8.2:       Explore the possibility of addition to, and renovation of the Science Building, including addition of a wing to accommodate better and more extensive teaching and research facilities.



·        Conduct a cost-benefit analysis of building renovation or addition.

·        Identify possible major donors for such construction.



·        Level of interaction with Administration

·        Number of possible donors with regard to construction and/or renovation.