Department receives name change

Earlier this year, a department at Missouri Southern took on a new name.

The department of biology, after several meetings, decided to change its name to the department of biology and environmental health.

“When I came here, we were the department of biology and I knew we had an environmental health program,” said Dr. Karen Plucinski, head of the department of biology and environmental health.

Plucinski said people who have been on campus a long time do not know the department offers a degree in environmental health. After several discussions, a departmental vote was taken and a memo was written announcing the change. She said the change had to be approved by Dr. John Messick, dean of the school of arts and sciences; Dr. Richard McCallum, vice president for academic affairs; and University President Julio León.

“We thought it was a great idea,” Plucinski said. “[We were] delighted when they came back and said, ‘yes, we agree.'”

Plucinski said the reason for the department name change was to bring attention to the students and the general public.

“It brings more recognition to the environmental health program,” she said. “I think it’s great. That major is growing.”

She said people still think of it as the department of biology.

“I don’t think a lot of people know about it yet,” Plucinski said. “I don’t think the word has really gone out yet.”

Mike Fletcher, director of the environmental health program, said they have always been two different departments.

“We’ve always had a biology degree and an environmental health degree,” Fletcher said, “but we haven’t ever put in the title of the department.”

He said it is a “positive thing” because the students do not know of the environmental degree as separate degree.

“I think it’s a good way to get the message out,” Fletcher said.

Dr. Jim Jackson, professor of biology, said the change reflects the spirit of the department and its existence for many years.

“Hopefully, it will inspire many more students to come and join in just because they see that there is some place they can go and work toward alleviating man’s degradation,” Jackson said.

Plucinski said there are 34 students enrolled as environmental health majors. She said one out of 10 students are enrolled in this degree.

Fletcher said the environmental health degree is accredited by a national organization.

“We are the only one out of 28 universities in the United States that has an accredited environmental health degree,” Plucinski said.