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Marine science programs are major asset to city

St. Petersburg is well on its way to becoming the mecca for marinescience study and research. Surrounded as it is by the protected waters of Tampa Bay and the open waters of the Gulf, our city is naturally situated and also blessed with a mild climate. Add our institutions of higher learning, Eckerd College and the University of South Florida branch campus. Top it off with the Department of Natural Resources Marine Research Laboratory and the U.S. Geological Survey Center for Coastal Geology, and you have a unique formula for success. Much of the credit for bringing the Coastal Survey Center may be attributed to the leadership at USF.

The Eckerd College undergraduate program of marine science is winning acclaim throughout the nation for the quality of graduates.

Headed by professor John Reynolds, biologist and noted expert on the manatees, the faculty includes specialists in marine biology, physical oceanography and marine geology. Marine science majors enjoy unprecedented opportunities to learn and practice the skills of research as undergraduates.

Visiting with one of our honor students at Eckerd, I was interested to learn that she had come to Eckerd with the intent of pursuing a major with the excellent creative writing faculty there, but had switched to a major in marine science. Exposed to Eckerd's waterfront and marine science program, she found it irresistible. Someday, she told her father, she might write a book on marine science.

The celebrated graduate marine science program of USF located its St. Petersburg branch in the heart of our city. Headed by Dr. Peter Betzer and a truly outstanding faculty, this program is the perfect compliment to the undergraduate program at Eckerd College.

The marine science programs at Eckerd and USF both are greatly enhanced by the spirit of cooperation between the two. The sharing of human and physical resources between the two is indicative of the professors' genuine interest in their discipline and in their students. This spirit of cooperation between our private and public institutions of higher learning is to be celebrated by those of us who are supportive of both and might well be the subject of another column!

Speaking of support, let us see how we can lend a hand to these

institutions. There are many needs and dreams to be fulfiled, but the critical need is for scholarship funds. Scholarships are needed to open the door for deserving students who otherwise might not be able to pursue their interest in marine science. We should be doing what we can locally to encourage study and research in marine science that now is acknowledged to be of prime importance to future generations.

Martha Rudy Wallace is a member and past chairman of the Eckerd College board of trustees. She served on the Pinellas County School Board 1972-1980. My View columnists, invited to contribute on a regular basis, write their own views on subjects they choose.