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SWT launches doctoral program in aquatic resources

Date released: 04/28/03

SAN MARCOS — A new doctoral program at Southwest Texas State University is designed to produce innovative leaders to address the state’s most important natural resource issue – water.

In the fall, the university will introduce a degree program leading to a doctor of philosophy degree with a major in aquatic resources. The program was approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board April 24. It is the first Ph.D. program in science offered by a Texas State University System school.

“Water is the single most important natural resource issue facing the economic development of Texas as we move into the 21st century,” said Walter Rast, director of the new program and head of SWT’s Aquatic Station.

The program will be administered through the SWT Biology Department, but will be interdisciplinary in nature with many other SWT departments offering coursework and related expertise, including the departments of Agriculture, English, Geography, Philosophy and Political Science and the Department of Health Services Research.

“Our goal is to produce professionals competent in water science and aquatic resources who are also knowledgeable about the socio-economic elements involved, such as law, economics, regulations, politics and institutions and agencies. We want our graduates to be tomorrow’s leaders in aquatic science and water policy development,” said Rast.

Rast said SWT has many existing attributes that will contribute to the success of the program, including:

  • The university’s water-sensitive geographic location in Central Texas.
  • Major rivers, lakes and groundwater aquifers on or within 25 miles of the SWT campus.
  • Responsibility for a major regional aquatic resource, including the university’s stewardship of the San Marcos Springs.
  • Already established educational and outreach aquatic resource programs.
  • A nationally recognized master’s degree program in aquatic biology housed in the 33,000-square-foot Freeman Building.
  • A wide range of multidisciplinary and interdepartmental support for such a program.

Rast said he expects the program to enroll 10 students in its first year and at least 10 per year over the first six years of the program. A stable enrollment of about 35 students is anticipated over the long term.

For further information on the SWT doctoral program in aquatic resources, call (512) 245-2284.