2013-14 Unit Plan
Physical Science

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 Department of Physical Sciences enjoys an excellent reputation within the campus community. The Chemistry, Engineering, Physics and Geology programs offer lower-division courses for science and engineering majors and the Physical Science program offers general education courses for all majors. Students that have been through our programs return on a regular basis to reflect on their experiences, and the sense of collegiality they felt while in our classes. This is also reflected in student evaluations. We have several faculty members that were former students and have wanted to come back to the department and give back some of what they received. We have worked with other departments (specifically Mathematics, Biology, and Computer Science) to create a student-friendly schedule with accessible offerings in a number of different formats. All chemistry classes, and many classes in other programs, tend to close before the end of registration with full waitlists, again reflecting a high degree of demand for our programs as well as a solid reputation for our courses. 

Enrollments in the Physical Science program are very good.  Most classes fill before the semester begins. The Weather classes (PSC 50 and 51) are very strong at both the Chico Center and the Main Campus. We would like to add our new course, Natural Hazards (PSC 53), to the schedule.  Many students are excited about this topic, and it should be a popular 3-unit physical science general education offering.  Environmental Science (PSC 10) continues to be extremely popular. We currently offer one section of 24 students that closes during the first week of registration. We could easily fill a second section and serve more students if we are allowed to expand the schedule. The interdisciplinary Introductory Physical Science (PSC 20 and 21) has had very good enrollments, and the physicists have strengthened the Introductory Astronomy (PSC 30) course with two full sections.  We sacrificed the nighttime section of astronomy for budgetary reasons and want to resurrect it to better serve our working students and to offer at least one section that gives students a chance to make real nighttime observations.

Future Development Strategy

Strategy 1

The program has two primary needs: one, the ability to add sections of our popular classes to the schedule, both at Chico Center and at Main Campus; two, more lecture and laboratory space.

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

  • Supporting Rationale
    Our Physical Science courses are very popular because they allow many students to learn science without having to enroll in a majors course and because they fulfill a general education requirement.  We could easily expand the schedule of offerings, but this requires more lecture and laboratory space and a commitment from the administration to expand the schedule.

    Supporting Rationale Alignment
  • Supports Previous Program Review Recommendations
  • Maintaining core programs and services
  • Increasing student success
  • Maintaining the appropriate program and service mix between the main campus and outlying centers
  • 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: $824

    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 All 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