2013-14 Unit Plan

Mission Statement

The Butte College Department of Physical Sciences provides quality educational programs within a student-centered environment. We offer complete lower division transfer programs for physical science (chemistry, geology, physics, physical science, meteorology and engineering) majors, as well as high-quality general education, program support (health professions including nursing, respiratory therapy and EMT), and preparatory classes that serve the needs of our community.

Program Description

The physics program provides students with a superb preparation at the introductory level.  The program offers a conceptual level class that encourages non-science students to explore the physical world in a qualitative way to help them understand what physics is and how best to evaluate the claims made by scientists.  We also offer a full-year sequence of introductory physics that covers all major aspects of the science for students preparing for careers in biology, the health professions, and other programs where a basic grounding in physics is required but not crucial to their work or study.  The program also offers a three-semester sequence of introductory physics for students in all science and engineering fields.  The program regularly transfers students into science and engineering programs within the CSU and UC systems as well as into many of the major health professional schools in the state.  

Enrollment in the program continues to increase; most of the physics classes fill along with full waitlists.  The spring semester tends to be more impacted, with all save two classes filling before the end of registration.  The problem solving sections, PHYS 51 and PHYS 52, for the calculus-based physics courses have gained enrollment as word has spread of their value and utility and also because we have found ideal days and times for the class that work with students' schedules.  

Future Development Strategy

Strategy 1

The physics program is strong.  There is demand to grow, but the program is constrained by personnel and space limits.  First, the program needs a new full-time instructor so that we can offer a fuller schedule with more sections.  Second, more lab and lecture space is needed.

  • Inspiring passion through collaboration
  • Focusing on student success
  • Valuing a culture of learning
  • Enhancing an innovative, responsive, and accountable culture

  • Supporting Rationale
    All of the physics courses fill rapidly with full wating lists.  Many of our students have to extend their stay at Butte College because they cannot get into the limited number of sections we offer.  We could ameliorate this problem by offering more sections, but this can only happen if we hire more full-time instructors and gain more dedicated lecture and laboratory space.

    Supporting Rationale Alignment
  • Supports Previous Program Review Recommendations
  • Maintaining core programs and services
  • Increasing student success
  • Establishing new initiatives that support the Strategic Direction
  • Required Resources

    The major resource we need is additional space.  The college already has a new science builiding in the state queue, but this project was shelved when the financial crisis hit in 2008.  That building is designed for both the Physical Sciences and the Biology departments.  An alternative is for the Physical Sciences department to refurbish the Automotive building and and turn all or part of it into dedicated lecture and laboratory space.  If a new location can be found for the MESA program offices, that space could also be converted into lecture rooms or labs.  The large lecture hall (PS-131) also needs to have the chairs replaced.

    In addition to space, we have ongoing needs to update and replace laboratory equipment and demonstration apparatus.    

    Current Revenue Stream

    Program Supply & Equipment: $2,763

    Augmentation Requests

    Original Priority Funded Program, Unit, Area Resource Type Description Account Number Object Code One-Time Augment Ongoing Augment Supporting Rationale
    1 Yes All Facilities New Building $30,000,000.00 $0.00 All of our programs need additional space.
    2 Yes All Facilities Automotive Building $1,500,000.00 $0.00 If the state does not approve a new science building, the next best solution is to refurbish the Automotive building into lecture and laboratory space.
    3 Yes All Facilities MESA Offices $50,000.00 $0.00 The MESA offices occupy one entire side of the Physical Sciences building. If we could move MESA into a different building--but one that is still proximate to ours--we could recapture that space and turn it into a lecture room, or a lecture/laboratory combination.
    4 Yes Equipment New Chairs $50,000.00 $0.00 The table and chair arrangement in the large lecture hall PS-131 is not ideal. By replacing with new tables and chairs, we can increase the number of seats without adversely affecting pedagogy or safety.
    Total(s) $31,600,000.00 $0.00