Meet Eric Brevik, a professor of geology and soil science from North Dakota’s Dickinson State University. Brevik began his duties as dean of the College of Agricultural, Life and Physical Sciences (CALPS) on July 1, 2021.
Brevik said the job attracted him because the programs within it span his professional background, which includes deep study in both geology and soil science.
“I started my academic life as a geologist, getting my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology, and that fits in well with the School of Earth Systems and Sustainability. I then got a Ph.D. in soil science, which fits well with the School of Agricultural Sciences,” Brevik said. “I have also taught both geology and soil science coursework throughout my 20 years as a tenure-track faculty member and have published several papers that discuss the intersection of soil science and geology.”
In addition, Brevik has collaborated with biologists, chemists and physicists during his career.
“So the college is a really good fit for me professionally,” he said. “On a more personal note, SIU is also about as central to family for myself and my wife as it is currently possible to get, so that was appealing.”
Brevik is proud of what the college offers students and is eager to create an atmosphere of collaboration among the faculty, staff, alumni, and donors.
“The opportunities students have for a hands-on learning experience is phenomenal. Not all universities have farm facilities, but here at SIU, you can literally step outside the classrooms and be on the farm in five minutes,” he said. “There, our professors can provide personal training. Students can also find employment at our farms. We have some great scientists who do impressive field-based work. This region, with its rivers, bluffs, caves, and forests makes it a prime location for our students to learn outdoors. Our forestry program is ranked second in the country. It helps that the Shawnee National Forest is in our backyard for our students to get real-life experiences as they study. We also have highly-regarded fisheries, wildlife, and geology programs that take advantage of our surrounding environment.”
Brevik points to the relationship the college has with John Deere and hopes that other types of collaboration will occur in the coming years.
“I am so appreciative of Sydenstricker Nobbe Partners, a John Deere dealer. Thanks to a lease they gave us last year, we now have brand new farm equipment for the students to use. We have new tractors, combines and several other pieces of equipment valued at more than $2.5 million dollars,” he said. “Having such equipment positively impacts the education our students receive at SIU.”
Brevik notes that while the college has benefited from such partnerships, much remains to be done to keep the college thriving.
“It takes a lot to maintain the many buildings we have on the farm. We have several buildings that could definitely use updating. The Beef Center is an example where we recently got a generous helping hand from Compeer Financial,” he said. “As the state continues to cut our budget, we continue to have needs that cannot be ignored. Having alumni and donors give us a helping hand is a critical component to our success.”
Brevik is proud of the diversity of programs that CALPS offers students.
“We have over 1,500 undergraduate students, making us one of the largest colleges at SIU. We offer programs in agricultural sciences biological sciences, chemistry, earth systems and sustainability, fermentation science, and physics” he said. We offer great laboratory-based experiences for students with an interest in laboratory science work. Our chemistry and physics programs have also hosted a highly-regarded research experience for undergraduates (REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation for many years.”
During the past summer, CALPS was proactive in its efforts to recruit new students. Staff and professors engaged prospective and admitted students through phone calls, emails, and webinars, and they hosted open houses, academic showcases, virtual tours, and campus visits.
If you would like to learn more about the SIU College of Agricultural, Life and Physical Sciences or you would like to provide your support, visit www.calps.siu.edu/give.