Purdue strengthens health, human sciences with college realignment

Februaruy 11 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue's board of trustees on Thursday (Feb. 11) approved a college realignment that enhances the university's health and human sciences programs without changing the number of colleges on campus.

"A college dedicated to health and human sciences would enhance student opportunities and promote faculty collaborations aimed at improving health and quality of life of people," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "The realignment could consolidate and elevate Purdue's reputation in the health and human sciences."

The College of Health and Human Sciences, which will replace the College of Consumer and Family Sciences, also is an opportunity to attract more external research funding, said Randy Woodson, Purdue's executive vice president for academic affairs and provost.

There will be no increase in the overall number of administrative leadership positions associated with the new college.

"Most of the resources needed to support this new structure are available with the current units of the three existing colleges," Woodson said. "New investments in facilities and personnel will be necessary to launch this effort and have been estimated to be around $600,000."

The new college will house the departments of Health and Kinesiology; Psychological Sciences; Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences; Child Development and Family Studies; Foods and Nutrition; Consumer Sciences and Retailing; and Hospitality and Tourism Management, as well as the schools of Nursing and Health Sciences. The realignment was the result of work conducted by a faculty-led taskforce that Woodson appointed last July.

The nine academic units are currently spread across three colleges, which can provide challenges for student recruitment and success. Combining them will provide an opportunity to develop new, and strengthen existing, interdisciplinary premedicine, predental, preveterinary or other preprofessional degree programs that are attractive to students, Woodson said.

"It will be more effective to have students interested in health sciences, whether it be kinesiology, nutrition, audiology or nursing, under the same program," he said. "The new college will consolidate our current preprofessional advising program, enhance student success in admission to professional schools, and assist students transferring between or combining undergraduate majors. All of these will help increase student retention."

The realignment will create no changes for the current 4,961 undergraduate majors and 557 graduate students in the academic programs involved.

"Interdisciplinary collaborations among these academic units have always been strong, but bringing us all together under one college is just the beginning of even more opportunities, especially with the potential to benefit our students," said William Harper, professor and head of the Department of Health and Kinesiology and chair of the taskforce. "For example, this college will expand course offerings to enhance existing and emerging graduate degree programs, such as the recently created master's of public health program. Ultimately, the combination of these academic programs in the college will facilitate opportunities for students to discover and broaden their career aspirations, as well as enhance the coordination of distance learning, internships and study abroad."

The new college would be operational on July 1. A transitional leadership team will be assembled, and the new college will be launched on that date with the appointment of an interim dean. A national search for dean will begin in fall 2011.

The four departments making up the College of Consumer and Family Sciences - child development and family studies, foods and nutrition, consumer sciences and retailing, and hospitality and tourism management - will be part of the new college. The more than 400 faculty and staff from these areas will be absorbed into the new college. Pharmacy will stand as an independent college as nursing and health sciences relocate, and liberal arts will continue with its nine departments and 17 interdisciplinary programs.

Woodson said the new college realignment is linked to the "New Synergies" plan. The six-year strategic plan, which was adopted in June 2008, focuses on positioning the university to meet the challenges facing humanity, growing and creating opportunities for Indiana and the global economy, and enhancing student learning for success in a changing world.

Trustees also approved a bachelor's program in energy engineering at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. The program is designed for students who wish to study and work in the energy industrial sectors and who have potential to pursue graduate studies. The program will prepare engineering students for a rapidly expanding energy industry that has recently become recognized as a major contributor to the economic growth in Indiana and nationwide, Woodson said.

Enrollment in this program is projected to be 17 students in the first year, increasing to 60 students by the third year. Nine new courses will be developed for the curriculum. Six new full-time faculty members and one full-time technician will eventually be required. The faculty specialty areas will be in solar energy, wind energy, fuel cells, biofuel, power electronics and material engineering. The proposed budget, managed through Indiana University, will include sources of revenue such as reallocation of existing funds and fees from new students.

Implementation of the IUPUI program is subject to approval by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Source: Randy Woodson, 765-494-9709, woodson@purdue.edu