The College of Applied Science and Technology is celebrating 50 years of cultivating “the intellectual and personal growth of individuals through premier teaching, research, and outreach programs.” Such inspirational language comes directly from the college’s own mission statement.
CAST, as it’s commonly known around campus, is the second largest college at Illinois State University and one of the most varied academically with 27 different majors offered. No wonder CAST is described as “a college of diverse disciplines.”
One way the college is celebrating this milestone 50th anniversary is with an online series called CAST 50×50. The series highlights 50 faculty, staff, students, alumni, and organizations within CAST who help make the college special. Each day individualized and unique stories tell the compelling, multifaceted CAST story.
Interim Provost Jan Murphy has been at Illinois State for over three decades and has an enduring connection to CAST. She has held a number of positions in the department and at the University. Most recently, she served CAST as its interim dean. She arrived on campus in 1986, as a newly minted Ph.D. from Nebraska to begin her first job as a home economics assistant professor in CAST. Murphy has witnessed the growth and evolution of the department from the perspective of a novice academic to her place now as a veteran administrator.
Murphy cited two important mentors—Betty Chapman and Connie Ley—who had a great influence on her career and on the department. Chapman and Ley were responsible for hiring her.
“They facilitated good work—hire the right people, provide resources, and get out of the way,” Murphy said in describing the duo’s philosophy. “They were looking for scholars and researchers. Dean Betty Chapman had a vision for this college. She was an extraordinary dean.”
While Chapman was not the college’s first dean, she followed strong leadership with more strong leadership, which was crucial. Starting a new college within the University took a leader’s vision and planning and hard work from a lot of individuals. If you ask Murphy, consolidating a handful of departments into one college has worked out pretty well over these 50 years. There’s a word that comes to mind.
“Growth—the vast majority of our programs in CAST are as big as they’ve ever been,” she said.
Clarence Moore, retired faculty member from the Agriculture Department, would know. He was here from the beginning. In fact, he was part of the first college committee, made up of a few faculty members who helped organize the new college.
A native of South Dakota, Moore was working on the big island of Hawaii as a livestock specialist for the University of Hawaii when he decided to come to Illinois State in 1961. He had met and stayed in touch with Harvey Woods, who was the head of the Ag Department. It took a couple of years before a spot came open, but Woods hired Moore as an assistant professor in animal science.
“Woods hired me via the U.S. Mail because travel and phone calls were too expensive, so there was no in-person interview,” Moore recalled.
And, Moore, it turned out, liked the place, staying until retirement in 1989.
Harold Gibson was the acting dean of CAST until 1967 when Charles Porter became dean, coming over from the Department of Industrial Technology. Moore knew both.
“Porter did a good job,” Moore recalled. “He was a very good administrator.”
Moore was joined on that first faculty college committee by one representative faculty member from each of the three original departments that formed CAST: Industrial Technology, Home Economics, and Agriculture.
“We helped organize the workings of the new college, of how the three would exist under one department,” Moore said. “We worked on bylaws, faculty-status issues, but basically we were there to organize this new college.”
Moore said his service to the committee lasted for several years. He was proud to serve.
“ISU was an excellent place,” Moore said. “The emphasis was on teaching even though there were only about 100 students then, and now there are about 600 (in Agriculture alone), and teaching was what I enjoyed.”
And, what does he think of CAST these days?
“I’m impressed,” he said. “It’s amazing how it’s grown.”
For today’s student, CAST is more relevant than ever.
Nick Reichman ’15 is a good example of that. Reichman, 23, from Crystal Lake, earned his undergraduate degree in engineering technology at Illinois State. Now he’s working on his master’s degree in project management. Eventually, he will have earned two degrees from CAST’s Department of Technology.
In 2013 Reichman transferred from a community college near his hometown. What grabbed his attention when he first arrived on campus is what has now turned into his passion.
“I was out on the Quad for Festival ISU, and I saw this solar car, and I wanted to get involved,” Reichman said. “I was the kid who always took things apart and put them back together.”
Reichman is a big fan of the Caterpillar Integrated Manufacturing Laboratory in Turner Hall, or the robot lab, as it’s known.
“On Day One in class, you’re hands-on writing code to make a robot functional,” Reichman said.
He has kept himself plenty busy during his time at Illinois State. He had an internship with Caterpillar one summer where he worked on a project as a programmer making transmission housings for CAT’s massive 797 rock truck.
He also formed a registered student organization—the Engineering Technology Club—that made a robot and competed in a national competition in St. Louis, winning second place. And, he led the Solar Car Team to Abu Dhabi to compete against 15 other teams from around the world.
When Reichman graduates in December 2017, he will be well prepared for the job market, thanks to his training in CAST.
“The department as a whole is fantastic,” he said. “I have all the tools to move forward with my future.”
Interim Provost Murphy described CAST as a very laboratory-intensive college, with talented faculty and advisors, and she emphasized its high postbaccalaureate job-placement rate.
“The college is very current, with a curriculum that is very up to date,” she said. “And, parents see specific jobs available for students coming out of CAST.”
In the end, the proof is in the product, a fact not lost on Professor Emeritus Moore.
“Many have had successful, tremendous careers coming from ISU,” Moore said. “We have to give the students most of the credit, but we can be proud of the things that are going on here based on the results.”
- Eight departments housed in nine buildings
- Over 4,700 students
- Over 160 faculty
- Academic units: Agriculture, Criminal Justice Sciences, Family and Consumer Sciences, Health Sciences, Information Technology, Kinesiology and Recreation, Military Science, and Technology
- 30 areas of study at the undergraduate level
- 21 programs with national accreditations by professional organizations
- Master’s degrees offered in Agriculture, Criminal Justice Sciences, Family and Consumer Sciences, Information Technology, Kinesiology and Recreation, and Technology
- CAST affiliates: Child Care Center, Gamma Phi Circus, Horticulture Center, and University Farm at Lexington