The American Physical Society (APS) has recognized the SMCM Physics Department with its 2017 Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education. The award “seeks to recognize excellence in undergraduate physics education and support best practices in education at the undergraduate level.” The citation reads:
St. Mary’s College of Maryland is a small, public liberal arts college with about 1800 students. Their physics department is strong and vibrant, with an outstanding commitment to undergraduate education and research. Its physics program has grown substantially over the past decade both in the number of majors and in the number of faculty. This was possible because of a deliberate strategy to improve the quality of the program by hiring talented new faculty, making innovative changes in the curriculum, and attracting highly qualified students through outreach. St Mary’s effort in becoming a nationally-ranked physics program and to attract students to their program was recognized by an investment of $1 million to create an applied physics program. As a result, St. Mary’s College was selected as one of the case studies in the new AAPT/APS study by the Joint Task Force on Undergraduate Physics Programs (J-TUPP). St. Mary’s College graduates an average ten majors per year, placing St. Mary’s among the top 20% of undergraduate-only institutions.