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Lake State creates new college to focus on Great Lakes ecology

The College of the Great Lakes Ecology and Education becomes LSSU’s sixth college

Capitalizing on its unique location, Lake Superior State University has created the College of the Great Lakes Ecology and Education, a news release states.

LSSU’s board of trustees voted unanimously to establish the College of the Great Lakes Ecology and Education. Its interrelated goals include increasing enrolment, retention, and graduation at Lake State; training the next generation of conservationist leaders and teachers; delivering high-impact practices for students, such as research, internships, and volunteerism; partnering with public and private natural resource agencies on environmental causes vital to the area; expanding revenue streams for the blue economy that flows across the Great Lakes; and bettering the Great Lakes region, the release added.

Dr. Ashley Moerke, executive director of the Richard and Theresa Barch Center for Freshwater Research and Education (Barch CFRE) at LSSU, has been named founding dean of the College of the Great Lakes Ecology and Education.

“I am honored to be part of this exciting initiative that recognizes LSSU’s unique location at the nexus of three Great Lakes and that will build upon our natural, cultural, and social resources for our students to become the next local and global leaders in natural resources, conservation, and education.” 

Moerke, a freshwater ecologist focusing on the Great Lakes basin and a professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, earned biology degrees from University of Minnesota Duluth (B.S.) and University of Notre Dame (M.S. and Ph.D.). She was a scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before joining LSSU’s faculty in 2004. Dr. Moerke was president of the Society for Freshwater Science in 2021-22 and is a member of the State of Michigan Water Quality Advisory Committee and an at-large advisor to the Lake Superior Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

The college will be comprised of Barch CFRE, the School of Natural Resources, and the School of Education. Students can enrol starting in the fall 2023 semester. Preliminary efforts are underway to staff the new college and new academic programs are under consideration.

“LSSU’s new College of the Great Lakes Ecology and Education will not only help the institution equip graduates with the knowledge and skills to craft a life of meaningful employment but also enhance the quality of life of the Great Lakes region and beyond,” said Lake State Board of Trustees Chair Timothy L. Lukenda. “The Great Lakes supply almost 20 percent of the world’s surface freshwater plus drinking water for more than 30 million people. LSSU’s backyard is nestled among three of them, thus providing vital occasions for ecofriendly research, innovation, real-world experiences—and this new college.”

The College of the Great Lakes Ecology and Education becomes LSSU’s sixth college. Lake State’s board of trustees previously restructured academic programs into five colleges (and various schools within them) in December 2017: the College of Criminal Justice and Emergency Responders, the College of Health and Behavior, the College of Innovation and Solutions, the College of Science and the Environment, and the College of Education and Liberal Arts.