Workgroup identifies pros and cons of new academic programs

Kalyn Hayslett, Editor-in-Chief


Workgroup No. 8, charged with academic visioning, weighed the positives and negatives for possibly implementing an agriculture business academic program, doctorate programs and a leadership minor during its meeting Monday.

Members unanimously agreed that offering an agriculture business program could help Eastern become more competitive, as well as attract more potential students.

However, the members were determining how to construct the program.

Kelly Miller, interim director of admissions, said Eastern could use this academic program to partner up with Lake Land Community College to split the workload and condense it into a four-year offering.

“We can work out the program with Lake Land. Students can get an agriculture degree, and then they can come here and get a business degree,” Miller said.

Lake Land College currently has an agriculture business and supply major as well as an agriculture production and management major.

Technology professor Peter Ping Liu said this is the right time to offer an agriculture program because before, the environment was not accepting.

“We are in the corn field so it’s a natural incentive to get into it since the landscape is open now. In general, I believe agriculture could be good for us because we are in farm county,” Liu said.

However, establishing enough staff to carry out the program is the main issue, biological sciences professor Britto Nathan said.

“Most of us agree an agriculture program would be great, but we need someone to champion it. At this point the program has to be cost effective,” Nathan said.

Before the workgroup decides to submit an agriculture business academic program, the members will create a survey to assess if students and faculty would be open to the suggestion.

To help with staffing, the program could possibly build onto the rural studies interdisciplinary minor that will be offered in the spring 2017, Nora Pat Small, interim history department chair, said.

Using the Emerging Leaders Program as its foundation that is offered in the new student programs, the workgroup considered establishing a leadership minor.

The Emerging Leaders Programs is a three-month program offered in the spring to help freshmen and sophomores develop leadership skills and get involved on and off campus.

Kimberly Kuspa, a senior communications studies major, said she was one of the student coordinators for the program and by expanding on the book, quizzes and activities, it could easily become a minor.

Kuspa used the Jepson School of Leadership Studies within the University of Richmond to study its leadership minor and analyze the classes that are offered.

She said the course work is “feasible,” and four communication studies classes, similar to classes in the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, are already offered.

 Samantha Boomgarden, a sophomore psychology and pre-medicine major, also researched University of Illinois, Ball State, Indiana State and the University of Minnesota, which all offer leadership academic programs.

“It’s not like we don’t have professors who don’t teach leadership; it’s just a matter of generalizing it,” Kuspa said.

The members identified that it could be an issue when determining where the program’s classes would be housed and where it would be classified.

Liu said one of his dreams would be for Eastern’s academic programs to mimic the shape of a pyramid, with numerous undergraduate programs, a smaller number of graduate programs and a few doctorate programs.

“If you want to improve our façade (image), a limited Ph.D. program would be an investment for university that would be a long-term benefit,” Liu said.

The members agreed that offering doctorate programs would allow Eastern to attract students globally and nationally.

“If Eastern is attractive enough, students will come. If the quality of the education is not present, you will not attract people to come,” Liu said. “The program setting we have is not ideal because we want to compete in an international market.”


Kalyn Hayslett can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].