Cheyney University of Pennsylvania has introduced new programs in biology and computer science as part of a redesign of its curriculum to address changes in the workforce and to enhance students’ opportunities for success.
New concentrations under the biology degree program will be offered in pre-medicine, pre-nursing/health professions, forensics, ecology/environmental biology, aquaculture and cellular/molecular biology.
A new minor in computer science will provide students with the opportunity to attain a foundation in the field to complement virtually any major. It will provide knowledge and skills in technology that many industries now require and will help students to be more competitive in the job market. The computer science program was recently reorganized and updated to meet current technological innovations and market demand.
The new offerings, along with a new concentration in American political studies and a revised fine arts program, will be available beginning this fall.
“We are committed to ensuring a standard of quality in instruction, academic rigor and educational effectiveness across all of our courses and programs that will help ensure student success,” said Dr. Tara Kent, the University Provost. In describing the program changes, President Aaron Walton affirmed how the changes are consistent with the university’s planning process. “We are engaged in a strategic planning process that will provide the roadmap for the future of our academic programs, to make certain that the programs we offer are relevant and appropriately align with both student and workforce demands.”
Cheyney University, as all of the universities within Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, regularly reviews its academic programs to ensure they are current and remain relevant to employers in the Commonwealth. They routinely develop new programs in response to changing student and workforce demands and phase out programs that no longer match student interest or employer needs.
Over the last five years, the 14 State System universities combined have introduced or reorganized more than 140 new degree, minor or certificate programs. At the same time, the universities have placed in moratorium or discontinued about 270 programs no longer in demand.
The new concentrations under the biology major will offer students the opportunity to specialize within a specific area and provide the necessary foundation to prepare them for successful careers in these fields. Because of the planned emphasis on research and scientific skills, they will prepare students for entry into graduate and professional programs as well.
The new concentration in aquaculture, for example, will provide students with an educational and research foundation to enter a field that plays an important role in supporting aquatic plant, animal and seafood production; rebuilding protected species and habitats; and enhancing coastal resilience. This high-demand field also plays a vital role in sustainability. The concentration will replace the university’s marine biology program.
The university also will offer a new minor for students whose major does not focus on biology, but who might use it peripherally.
The new minor in computer science was developed in response to continuous growth and expansion in the technology field. Additional changes are being planned to further update and expand offerings in this high-demand area.
The new concentration in American political studies will provide an option for students to gain valuable preparation for understanding and participating in the U.S. and global political systems. Students will be especially immersed in the scholarship concerning the efficacy of the American state’s expanding pluralist democracy in relation to African Americans. The concentration will be offered as part of the social relations degree program and will be a critical component of the university’s forthcoming Institute for the Contemporary African American Experience. The American political studies concentration will provide a more focused approach than the former political science program, which was placed in moratorium due to low enrollment.
The B.A. in fine arts degree has been reorganized into a single track, with new courses designed by faculty in scientific illustration and basic design digital image manipulation. Additionally, building upon the strengths of faculty across departments, a new course titled “Art, Science and Technology” will introduce the intersection of art and technology.
Future expansion of the program also could include art therapy, a field that has expanded in recent years and has growth potential. “This proposal will strengthen our art major and prepare graduates for competitive entry into graduate programs and the placement within the industry,” said Provost Tara Kent.
The Liberal Studies degree program is expanding its areas of concentration and will introduce six new focused areas of study in the fall. The new concentrations include Business and Society, Education and Learning, Government and Law, Cognition, a concentration in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and a concentration in Pre-Art Therapy. The addition of these concentrations offers an expansion of interdisciplinary learning at the programmatic level.
As it seeks to build enrollment in and relevance of its existing and new academic programs, the university—for now—will focus on the undergraduate curriculum and degree offerings. Given the need to re-focus and evaluate the use of the University’s limited resources, the graduate degree programs are being placed into moratorium. “We will continue to explore the feasibility of developing new graduate degree programs at a time when our overall enrollment has stabilized,” Kent said.
“All of the program changes were the result of a thorough review and are focused on ensuring student success. They are intended to ensure the university’s continued ability to provide an intellectually challenging and socially enriching environment with a nurturing, student-centered approach.”
The academic review process was integrated with the university’s strategic planning and budgeting processes, and with regional and specialized accreditation processes, taking into account student demand, enrollment trends, course enrollments, regional workforce needs and current faculty and operational capacities.