Workgroup No. 8 hears new master’s degree program proposal

Kalyn Hayslett, Editor-in-Chief

Eric Davidson, interim director of Health Service, proposed three possible offerings for a master’s program in college health promotion during a meeting for Workgroup No. 8, Academic Visioning I.

Davidson suggested combining both the master’s in college student affairs and the master’s of science health promotion and leadership into a 3-year dual master’s program.

According to the academic catalog, both masters’ programs offer similar courses, including HST 5810: Research Methods for Health Professionals and CSD 5505: Research Methods in College Student Affairs.

“Instead of the student taking two different (statistics) classes from two different departments, they take one stats course if they have to do a thesis in the student college affairs program and a thesis in the health promotion program, instead of doing two theses, combining those two projects into one and kind of giving them the credit,” Davidson said.

Davidson also proposed two forms of college health certificates.

One certificate will mainly cater to students interested in either a master’s in college student affairs or health promotion and leadership programs, because the certificate will offer courses that are required in both.

The other certificate would not have any connection to the two master’s degrees, so students with different majors and interests could participate in it.

If the workgroup decides to recommend a certificate or a dual master’s degree program, it will allow Eastern to offer a graduate program that is not provided by any other higher learning institution, Davidson said.

Nora Pat Small, interim chair of the history department, said workgroup members should focus on how sustainable the proposed programs are to ensure increased enrollment for years to come instead of looking at what is “cool” now.

“I like the idea of thinking about sustainability, because this didn’t happen overnight that we are at this critical low enrollment,” Small said. “We have to recognize that it is going to take a number of years to regain and grow to the size we want to grow to.”

The program in health promotion was proposed out of a perceived need, because most employers in the health promotion field expect candidates to have a master’s degree, Davidson said.

“The need for the field is growing; interestingly, the academic preparation has not followed. I have tried to see if there are any master’s degree programs that offer a specialty, that offer a concentration, that offer a certificate,” Davidson said. “I was able to fine none.”

Davidson said offering a graduate program could increase enrollment by capturing students who are interested in getting a master’s degree.

“Students are going through these undergraduate degrees and probably have to make a choice-‘Am I going to continue with my health education route and hope that I get the job, or will I go to a college of student affairs type program?’” Davidson said.

This was the last presentation the workgroup will hear.

Workgroup members will use the information from all the presentations to complete its final recommendations.

Workgroup chair Jeff Stowell said members will look at the program proposals and determine how it will impact enrollment because this is the workgroup’s focus.

“We will use the data that we have to make our best judgment on how it will affect future enrollment growth over time,” Stowell said.

The workgroup will focus on groups of related program fields, particularly in health, business, agriculture and education.

The next meeting, when the group will discuss the formal structure of its recommendations, is set for 2 p.m. in room 2118 of Blair Hall.