Rod Library--Special Collections

Science Department Names

Descriptive Overview

Instructional departments offering science classes have had a fairly straightforward descent and relationship at the University of Northern Iowa. The changes in department names over the years have primarily cycled between all-inclusive science departments and departments differentiated into specific sciences.

A Science Department, that included both natural and physical sciences, existed from the foundation of the school in 1876 through 1892. In 1892, in one of the institution's first efforts at curriculum focus and organization, the Science Department divided into a Natural Science Department and a Physical Science Department. That division existed until 1896 when the two departments were combined back into a Science Department. The combined Science Department existed until 1909 when, in another major administrative re-organization plan, it divided into a Natural Science Department and a Physics Department. Four years later, in 1913, the Physics Department became the Physics and Chemistry Department.

These two departments, the Natural Science Department and the Physics and Chemistry Department, existed until 1935 when they were once again combined into a Science Department. This change occured for two reasons. First, it probably saved money during the terrible financial pressures of the Great Depression. And, second, perhaps just as important, 1935 marked the retirement of Professor Louis Begeman, a strong force in faculty matters and the head of the Physics Department and later the Physics and Chemistry Department since 1909.

This large, all-inclusive Science Department existed until 1968, shortly after the institution gained university status. In 1968, the College of Natural Sciences was organized with departments for the individual sciences once again, with the Biology Department, the Chemistry Department, and the Physics and Earth Science Department. (The Mathematics Department and the Industrial Arts and Technology Department were also included in this new College; the history of those department names is recounted elsewhere.) In 1970, the Physics and Earth Science Department divided into the Physics Department and the Earth Science Department.

And that is where matters rest in 2003. Science instruction takes place in the College of Natural Sciences, which includes the scientific Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Physics.




Natural Science
Physical Science


Natural Science

Natural Science
Physics and Chemistry


1968-70--Organization of the College of Natural Sciences, 1968
Biology, 1968-
Chemistry, 1968 -
Physics and Earth Science, 1968-1970

Biology, 1968-
Chemistry, 1968 -
Physics, 1970-
Earth Science, 1970-

Links to Other Pages about Subject Area Department Name Changes

Links to Pages about Instructional Department Names

Rod Library Special Collections and University Archives
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613-3675
Telephone: (319)-273-6307
Fax: (319)-273-2913