In 2011, the College of Sciences celebrated 50 years of academic excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. During these fifty years, the College has demonstrated a commitment to a rigorous liberal education in an environment in which excellent teaching fosters learning.
The College of Sciences began as the College of Letters and Science, the first academic college established by President Quincy Doudna in 1961. Previously all academic administration had been managed centrally by the President and his cabinet. With the establishment of the College of Letters and Science, President Doudna recognized the need to develop strong academic programs rooted in the arts and sciences. The first academic dean was Dr. Lawrence Ringenberg, a professor and head of Mathematics. Dean Ringenberg was a scholar and an academician. With his leadership, the College was known for excellent teaching by professors committed to the rigorous demands of a strong general and liberal education.
In 1972, the College was renamed the College of Arts and Science and then again in 1973 to the College of Arts and Sciences. Seventeen departments comprised the College: Botany, Chemistry, Economics, English, Foreign Languages, Geology, Geography, History, Journalism, Mathematics, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Speech Communication, Speech Pathology and Audiology, and Zoology.
In 1981, Dr. Jon Laible, a professor of Mathematics, began his tenure as dean. In 1988, the name of the College was changed to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to better reflect the role of the College in providing the University with a traditional arts and sciences curriculum through the liberal arts disciplines and through the general education curriculum. Dean Laible's high standards and his advocacy for general and liberal education ensured the legacy of excellence begun by Dr. Ringenberg.
Through a collaborative process completed in 1993, President David Jorns restructured the academic colleges. As a result, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was dissolved and from it, two new colleges were formed: College of Sciences and College of Arts and Humanities. The College of Sciences included eleven departments: Botany, Chemistry, Communication Disorders and Sciences (formerly Speech Pathology and Audiology), Economics, Geology and Geography, Mathematics, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology, and Zoology.
After Dean Laible's retirement, Dr. Lida G. Wall was named dean of the College of Sciences in 1995. As dean, Dr. Wall represented many "firsts" for the College. She was the first external dean, the first woman dean, the first dean who was not a mathematician. Dr. Wall, an audiologist, was formerly the department chair of Speech and Hearing Science at the Ohio State University. Dean Wall was a change agent. As Dean, she initiated many programs to increase the focus on faculty mentored undergraduate and graduate research. She introduced grant programs to support the research initiatives. She created venues to display and celebrate the research accomplishments of faculty and students. Dean Wall expanded outreach in the College and created the first student and alumni advisory boards.
In 2000, Dean Wall served as the interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. She selected Dr. Mary Anne Hanner, professor of Communication Disorders and Sciences, as the interim dean. Later, Dean Hanner was named the permanent dean by Provost Blair Lord.
Dean Hanner’s tenure was marked by continued advancement of faculty mentored research. With her support and encouragement, every department in the College established a Departmental Honors Program. The College supported the Provost’s initiatives with grant programs to advance study abroad and technology delivered education. Dean Hanner was committed to increasing the recruitment and retention of women and minority students in the sciences and mathematics which resulted in the establishment of WiSM (Women in Sciences and Mathematics) and M3S (Minority Mentoring in Math and Science). With Dean Hanner’s focus on philanthropy, several scholarships and awards were endowed including the most prestigious Ringenberg Award. Dean Hanner retired in 2011 after 11 years as Dean and 30 years as a faculty member at EIU.
The reputation of the College of Sciences today is a reflection of the work of Deans Ringenberg, Laible, Wall, and Hanner and the faculty and administrators who aspired with them to establish and support teaching excellence, faculty mentored research, and outreach to our constituencies for more than 50 years. Those who came before us framed the excellence for which we are known today.