UNA Pressroom

Una Dept. Of Geography Receives Approval To Offer Bs In Gis & Features An Excellence In Teaching Award Recipient

Dec. 11, 2015

Michelle Eubanks, UNA, at media@una.edu, 256.765.4392 or 256.606.2033

Bryan Rachal, University Communications

FLORENCE, Ala. - The Department of Geography at the University of North Alabama should be riding high after a string of successes. The department now boasts a new stand-alone Geographic Information Science (GIS) major, after receiving word from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE).

The UNA Department of Geography Chair, Dr. Francis Koti, said GIS is a branch of Geography that employs computer applications to capture, store, process, model, manage, display and analyze geographic data. The tools within the GIS system enhance efficiency in handling location-based information while the technology advances scientific research and problem solving.

"GIS is used by many different industries, organizations and agencies to solve a multitude of problems and includes everything from locating new pipelines, routing emergency vehicles, analyzing crime patterns, planning cities, managing natural resources, marketing research, tracking the spread of diseases, identifying terrorist movements and more," said Koti. "Our GIS graduates mostly find jobs in the oil and gas industry, utility companies, local government agencies, business and service planning, defense contractors and mission planning, software development companies, logistics, environmental agencies, engineering companies, and agriculture among others," he said.

Koti said the jobs range from entry-level GIS technicians, GIS analysts, software engineers, to upper-level GIS planners and managers.

Koti said that based on a recent study of graduation rates, UNA's Geography program is the largest in Alabama and fourth largest in the Southeast. According to the same study, UNA also ranks in the top 10 percent of programs nationally in terms of how many students the University graduates.

One of the reasons why UNA is so stellar at Geography/GIS is because of the faculty, which now includes award winner Dr. Michael Pretes.

Pretes recently received the Excellence in Teaching Award given by the Southeast Division of the Association of American Geographers (SEDAAG). The SEDAAG is the Southern regional association for academic geographers and includes the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Pretes said the award is given to one person each year.

"I was taken aback, but, of course, also delighted to receive it! I think it reflects well on the quality of the Geography Department at UNA and on the quality of our students especially," said Pretes. "I'd like tothank my colleagues in Geography, my students and the administration and staff at UNA for their support."

For more information on GIS at UNA: https://www.una.edu/geography/


The University of North Alabama is an accredited, comprehensive regional state university offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs through the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Human Sciences, and Nursing. Occupying a 130-acre campus in a residential section of Florence, Alabama, UNA is located within a four-city area that also includes Tuscumbia, Sheffield and Muscle Shoals. UNA also operates a renowned collegiate athletic program in NCAA Division II's Gulf South Conference. The University of North Alabama is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate in the admission policy on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age or national origin.