CAA approves new major

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

The Council on Academic Affairs approved a new interdisciplinary health communication major at its meeting Tuesday.

Stephen King, chair of the communication studies department, said the new major is the kind of signature program that Eastern President David Glassman and Provost Blair Lord have been calling for.

“It’s a unique program, and it will be the only undergraduate health communication major in the state,” King said. “There are only three like it in the nation.”

The major is ranked No. 14 of the 20 fastest-growing occupations related to healthcare and health education occupations, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to the major’s mission statement, it is intended to prepare students to communicate and promote positive health behaviors in professional healthcare settings and in health advocacy.

“Our students learn to design, evaluate and implement health communication programs in a variety of health-related settings,” the mission statement read.

King said the major has been a “wonderful” collaboration between health studies and communication studies.

According to the rationale, the major will combine knowledge of health behaviors with effective communication skills, something that is “paramount” as the U.S. population continues to age and diversify.

It will be a 59-hour major, with 47 hours in the core classes and 12 hours devoted to electives, King said.

Greg Aydt, a council member and academic adviser, asked what would happen if a student is on academic probation and, even after being given a semester to boost their grade, fails to reach the required 2.0 GPA.

King said they would either go to health studies or communication studies and have a conversation with the coordinator of that particular department.

“OK, so you’re envisioning while (the student) wouldn’t be eligible for the health communication major, they can choose health studies or communication studies as a major,” Aydt said.

King said he agreed with Aydt.

During the meeting, the CAA approved two new courses, HCM 2910: Introduction to Health Communication and HCM 4950: Special Topics in Health Communication. They also approved a change in HCM 3910: Communication in Health Professions that will update the course description, learning goals, weekly schedule and assignments, and add an online delivery option to the course.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]