Purdue OKs economics degree program, new Calumet department

May 17, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue University Board of Trustees on Tuesday (May 17) approved a bachelor's degree in economics for students in the College of Liberal Arts.

Trustees also voted to rename the Department of Foods and Nutrition the Department of Nutrition Science, and approved creating a Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management in Purdue University Calumet's School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Adding the economics bachelor's degree will help Purdue attract and retain outstanding students, said Timothy D. Sands, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. He said Purdue is the only university in the Big Ten that does not offer such a degree.

"A bachelor of arts degree in economics develops skills and insights that are good preparation for direct employment in management, banking, investment/financial services, consulting, journalism and government," said Sands, who also is the Basil S. Turner Professor of Materials Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The degree also prepares students for graduate study in law, business, public policy, political science, international relations and related areas, he said. It also can have positive long-term benefits.

"A recent study indicates that economics majors are more likely to eventually become CEOs of major companies than students from any other major, including majors in business administration and engineering," he said.

The new degree is expected to draw the interest of many students.

"An economics bachelor's degree is highly valued by many prospective students seeking a liberal arts education," said Irwin Weiser, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. "We think the new degree will be popular with students from existing degree programs in liberal arts and in the Krannert School of Management as well as attract new students to the College of Liberal Arts."

The degree will come from the College of Liberal Arts, with coursework from that college and Krannert's Department of Economics.

Enrollment is projected to grow from 27 in the first year to 130 in the program's fifth year. No new state funding will be requested for the program, which is scheduled to begin this fall.

Trustees also approved changing the name of the Department of Foods and Nutrition to the Department of Nutrition Science. The new name, which will go into effect July 1, better reflects the department's academic programs, research and outreach, said Connie Weaver, a distinguished professor of nutrition science and department head.

"The word nutrition describes our focus and the word science emphasizes a rigorous approach to teaching and research," she said. "Our department is often confused with the Department of Food Science in the College of Agriculture. This creates difficulties for prospective students to accurately identify and contact the department closest to their educational and professional goals."

She said the new name is consistent with the names of comparable nutrition departments across the nation and that department faculty voted in favor of the change.

The trustees also approved a new department of hospitality and tourism management in the School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Purdue Calumet. The program was previously in the Department of Behavior Sciences, along with the disciplines of psychology, sociology, human development and family studies, and marriage and family therapy, said Chancellor Howard Cohen.

He said moving hospitality and tourism management to a department that also includes foods and nutrition and fitness management will allow those programs to work better together. It also will help manage future development and growth, he said.

Writer:  Greg McClure, 765-496-9711, gmcclure@purdue.edu

Sources:  Timothy Sands, 765-494-9709, tsands@purdue.edu

                   Irwin Weiser, 765-494-3661, iweiser@purdue.edu

                   Connie Weaver, 765-494-8237, weavercm@purdue.edu

                   Howard Cohen, 219-989-2204, Hcohen@purduecal.edu