LHU proposes two new majors

LOCK HAVEN – Two new degree programs are proposed at Lock Haven University; a master’s degree and an associate’s degree.

The Council of Trustees heard Thursday that the proposals are awaiting approvals from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

The proposed Master of Health Sciences would offer the choice of two concentrations: Health Promotion/Education and Healthcare Management.

It is expected to attract health professionals, and because many of the students would already be working in healthcare, it would be a distance-learning program, without the need for on-campus course work.

The program would include core courses as well as electives and internship experiences.

Graduates could meet needs in health education, management and research in hospitals, clinics, government, insurance companies and health and human service agencies here and across the nation.

The need for healthcare providers is growing, according to the proposal. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts population growth of 50 million by 2025. In addition, more people are getting health coverage, and there is a greater emphasis on wellness and prevention programs.

This major would be unique among the PASSHE universities.

A marketing analysis shows interest among potential students. The program could enroll 18 full-time and 10 part-time students in its first year, 20 full-time and 40 part-time in the second year, and 20 full-time and 20 part-time in each subsequent year.

By the program’s third year, two new full-time faculty members would be needed to support it.

Both John A. Zidansek, CEO of Lock Haven Hospital, and Steven P. Johnson, president and CEO of Susquehanna Health, wrote letters supporting the proposal.

The associate’s degree is an Associate of Arts in Environmental Studies to prepare students for careers in environmental education and enforcement. LHU would be the first university in the state system to offer this degree.

Conservation, ecology and conservation law would be studied.

Graduates could work for government, non-profit organizations and research facilities. They could also easily move into a bachelor’s degree program at Lock Haven or another PASSHE university.

Lock Haven already offers a minor in environmental studies, coordinated by an interdisciplinary team of faculty in English, geology, biology, communications, economics, recreation management and philosophy. No new faculty members would be needed for this proposed major.

The university also is involved with the Beech Creek Watershed Association and Clinton County CleanScapes, and the new program would cooperate with the Pennsylvania Wilds initiative.

The program would take at least eight students in the first year, and a modest growth projection shows 30 students might be in this major by the fourth year it is offered.

The need for environmental specialists is growing, particularly in relation to the shale gas industry, according to the proposal. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has said employment for people with environmental associate degrees should increase by 24 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is faster than the average occupation.

A NEW PROGRAM

Dr. Kristin Vincenzes, assistant professor in Academic Development and Counseling Department, spoke to the trustees about the new M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

The 60-credit-hour program also is taught in “virtual classrooms,” she said. The distance-learning technology used for the major allows the students to connect not just with the teacher but also with each other, and Vincenzes said the students are becoming friends outside of their course work.

The degree program started in 2012 with less than 10 students and now has a total enrollment of 68.

It offers three specialty tracks: working with military veterans and their families, with children/adolescents, and with the general population.

Vincenzes said the program is working toward accreditation but cannot receive it until the first students graduate, which should be in 2015.

OTHER EDUCATIONAL CHANGES

Meanwhile, the Music Education major is being phased out. No new students are being taken, and once all the students in this program graduate, it will be terminated, according to a report given by Dr. Donna Wilson, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs.

LHU also is reducing the number of general education credits required, according to Wilson. This should make the credits less burdensome to students and reduce university costs without affecting quality.

A variety of majors have to be adjusted to reflect these changes.

Wilson also reported that the Division of Student Affairs has joined Academic Affairs as of last month, which should promote greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Students do not care about office titles, she said. What they care about is that someone is available when they need help.

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