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Biologist Althea Alton is also director of Western's Liberal Arts and Sciences degree programs.
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Althea Alton Directs WIU Liberal Arts and Sciences Degree Programs

August 7, 2009

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL - - Western Illinois University Biological Sciences Associate Professor Althea Alton has been named director of the Liberal Arts and Sciences bachelor's and master's degree programs within the College of Arts and Sciences, effective Aug. 1, according to Interim Dean Susan Martinelli-Fernandez.

Alton's duties will include working with faculty and students at WIU-Macomb and WIU-Quad Cities. She was previously the coordinator of the bachelor's Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) degree program.

Alton came to Western Illinois in 1987 as a visiting assistant professor in the biology department, and she was named to Western's fulltime faculty in 1988. She served as the assistant director for the University's Honors Program (now the Centennial Honors College) from 1995-1997 and then as its acting director during Summer 1997. Alton previously held posts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Indiana University; the National Science Technology Authority of the Philippines; and the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

"The College of Arts and Sciences appreciates Dr. Alton's enthusiasm and expertise in promoting interdisciplinary studies," said Martinelli-Fernandez. "Her background working on the baccalaureate LAS program and her long history of academic excellence will serve our students on the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses well."

Alton earned her Ph.D. (1981) in biology with a concentration in developmental genetics at Cornell University Graduate School of Medical Sciences. She also was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral fellowship at Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Institute (1981-1983) and another postdoctoral fellowship with the Indiana Corporation for Science and Technology (1985-1987) at Indiana University. She earned her bachelor's degree (1976) in biology at the University of the Philippines, Quezon City.

The Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences involves focused study in the traditional areas of liberal education: humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics. The degree can be tailored to meet students' academic needs and interests. The Bachelor of LAS equips students with the transferable skills valued by employers; it is also excellent preparation for graduate education. The degree is especially attractive to transfer students; in most cases, students entering the LAS program with an Associate in Arts or an Associate in Science degree should be able to complete the program within four semesters.

The Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences is for students who need or desire advanced education but do not require a specific specialized content area. This interdisciplinary degree stresses critical thinking, comparative analysis and highly flexible content rather than a more traditional advanced specialization in a fairly small content area. LAS is designed especially for students seeking a master's degree as an occupational qualification and for those who wish more in-depth inquiry into the liberal arts and sciences as a step toward greater personal fulfillment. LAS promotes an advanced level of critique, analysis and comparison; students explore the broad questions faced by human beings, as well as the specific means by which individual disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics have addressed these questions.

For more information about the LAS degree programs, contact Alton at (309) 298-3025 or e-mail

(Content provided by Jeff Dodd, assistant to the dean.)

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