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New colleges emerging at Jacksonville University to meet national trends

Expansion is the word on everyone’s mind as Jacksonville University introduces two new colleges for the fall of 2012: The College of Health Sciences (CHS) and College of Interdisciplinary and Professional Studies (CIPS).

In a move mirroring trends affecting universities nationwide, both colleges plan to increase the number of degrees offered at JU, allowing students more options to study fields in growing areas of demand, said Dr. Lois Becker, senior vice president for academic affairs. Additional courses are being developed and faculty will be hired to accommodate the growth of the degrees, she added.

With passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, health care systems are transforming, both in the way care is delivered and in how health professionals are educated. As the law adds millions of insured people to the health care delivery system, workforce demand for all health disciplines is increasing dramatically. 

“To align itself strategically with these national trends, the School of Nursing has developed a 10-year plan for program growth in nursing, as well as new degree programs in other health disciplines,” Dr. Becker said. “JU’s expansion to offer new degrees in the field of health coincides with creation of the College of Health Sciences.”

Dr. Judith Erickson, dean of the School of Nursing, called the expansion a natural progression to meet the demands of health care organizations serving a changing and aging population.

“We are seeing more and more students greatly interested in these fields as demands grow and change in Northeast Florida and beyond,” she said. “This allows us to position ourselves well by offering more degrees, such as in Speech Pathology and Health Information Technology.”

Another area seeing a surge of national interest is interdisciplinary studies.

In response, JU is launching a new interdisciplinary degree in Sustainability and working toward approval of one in Public Policy. Sustainability degrees will start in the fall of 2012, and a proposal for Florida’s first full master’s degree in Public Policy is being developed.

The College of Interdisciplinary and Professional Studies is designed to provide an administrative home to these degrees, as well as to house the Accelerated Degree Program and existing stand-alone M.Ed. degrees in Curriculum and Instruction and Instructional Leadership and Organizational Development.

Universities across the nation are increasingly developing interdisciplinary degrees, Dr. Becker noted.  JU is offering or considering at least two interdisciplinary degrees.  Interdisciplinary courses in the Sustainability program include various subject areas taught by JU faculty, in Sociology, Mathematics, Statistics, Business, Philosophy, Economics, Management, Law, Ethics and more. Meanwhile, a Public Policy degree proposal is being developed as well, with a target of the fall of 2013. 

The College of Interdisciplinary and Professional Studies will provide an administrative home to these degrees, plus a dean to coordinate efforts. It will be located on the first floor of the Davis College of Business. Its dean is Dr. William Crosby, professor of accounting, who has served as interim dean of the Davis College of Business for the last two years.