Xavier University of Louisiana has established two new undergraduate degree programs both of which build upon its strengths in the disciplines of communication and health sciences.
The new majors, which will be offered for the first time in the fall semester 2012, include the Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies (CMST) and the Bachelor of Science in Public Health Sciences (PHS).
Dr. Loren Blanchard, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Xavier said the new majors draw from Xavier’s strong liberal arts base and will largely showcase the talents and expertise of the university faculty.
“We are pleased that these programs are equally grounded in our general education requirements that span from African American studies, to philosophy and art,” Blanchard said of Xavier’s Core Curriculum that includes 60 hours of humanities, science and social science coursework. “From that foundation, both degree programs will help to place their respective graduates at the cutting edge of their disciplines.”
According to Dr. Ross Louis, chair of XU Department of Communications, the new Communication Studies program will offer students unprecedented career flexibility and, more broadly, will allow them to build personal communication skills applicable to a variety of career options or further study at the graduate level.
“Today, virtually every professional job requires effective communication skills,” said Louis, pointing to career fields in arts and entertainment, business, education, healthcare, government, law, non-profits, and social and human services. “Having a fundamental understanding of how and why people communicate in the way that they do can translate into a remarkable advantage in the workplace.”
He said the new focus is especially suited for students to better navigate the demands of today’s global society.
“Communication is essential to the world experience,” said Louis. “Our students will learn about the different peoples of the world not just by studying their language, culture and history, but how they themselves communicate with one another. Communication Studies students will have the ability to view the world primarily through the lens of communications.”
Students following the CMST curriculum will need to complete 128 semester hours, including 42 in the major in applied communication, performance studies and rhetorical studies. The program also provides opportunities for collaborative research with faculty. In keeping with the University’s social justice mission, all students must complete six hours of service-learning coursework.
The new Public Health Sciences major also aligns with the Xavier mission.
According to Dr. Leonard Jack, Jr., chair and professor in the new Public Health Sciences Department, the new curriculum encourages strong critical thinking skills. Public Health majors will consider the broad social implications of chronic diseases, and learn how to develop, implement, and evaluate tailored health and wellness strategies meant to curb the impact and prevalence of these health concerns.
Jack said PHS graduates will be ready for entry-level careers and prepared to pursue graduate studies in an array of public health tracks.
“Louisiana and Mississippi have some of the worst health care outcomes in the nation,” said Jack. “There is a great need to train a work force to serve in this region, as well as to meet the growing shortage of public health professionals nationwide.”
Students following the PHS curriculum will need to complete 130 semester hours, including 36 in the public health major. PHSC students will also serve senior internships at an approved public health site.
Xavier President, Dr. Norman C. Francis, praised the university faculty and academic departments for their efforts to be responsive to market needs and make Xavier graduates more competitive in a rapidly changing market.
“We recognize the challenges our graduates face as they embark on a career and we aim to not only sufficiently train them, but also equip them with the advantages and exceptional educational experiences that will be essential to their success,” Francis said.
The two programs will welcome their inaugural classes during the fall of 2012. Both chairs report significant interest in the new majors among current and prospective students.
Xavier University of Louisiana is a private, co-educational institution offering a comprehensive liberal arts program and professional programs, including 38 undergraduate majors, five master’s degree programs and a doctor of pharmacy program. Xavier is the only historically Black, Catholic university in the United States and draws students from 39 states, Washington, D.C., Guam, the Virgin Islands and 7 foreign countries.