On April 9, vice president and dean of the college Dr. Barbara Wells approved seven new majors and two new minors for the Maryville College curriculum.
The new majors and minors apply to four different divisions: fine arts (major and minor in design), the social sciences (majors in management, marketing, finance/accounting, human resource management and a business minor), education (major in exercise science), and natural sciences (major in neuroscience, a dual-degree program with UT Health Sciences College of Pharmacology).
The changes to the curriculum are a significant development, as until recently, Maryville College had seen the advent of only one major within the past decade.
“This has been a very extraordinary [event] for curriculum,” Wells said. “In the last decade, Maryville College has added one major, and now we have added eight.” These new majors and minors have been in the works for a long period of time, some of them for several years.
Faculty began to notice students who were pursuing classes that were focused in specializing in a certain area.
For instance, a physical education major was taking a course load of classes that would put him at a comparable level of study with an exercise science major, which that student was interested in studying at a graduate level.
“Much of what we’re doing is continuing to do what we have been doing informally, but we are formalizing it in majors that are useful to students in getting them to where they want to go in graduate school or a job,” Wells said.
John-Cole Kirksey, a sophomore, has decided to pursue the new major in design.
“Design is much more intensive than art.,” Kirksey said. “It sounds a lot less broad. It is very specific.”
Erica Collins, a sophomore, is also a former art major who decided to switch to design.
“Design is more focused in one area overall, rather than a broad art degree with a focus in one area,” she said.
Professor of English and member of the Academic Life Committee Dr. Sam Overstreet was in charge of reviewing and approving the new majors and minors.
“Art majors had had areas of concentration always,” Overstreet said. “One reason for making design not just an area of concentration, but a major with its own name was a response to the market. There are lots of jobs out there for people with expertise in design, and they could learn it at Maryville College in an art major, but it might not occur to them that they could do that. If we have it in an actual major, they might say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s what I want to do.’”
The practicality of these new majors and minors is tied to the new strategic plan for the college, which will officially be implemented in 2013.
“Admissions is telling us that prospective students and their parents are more practical than in the past,” Wells said. “It’s not just that they want their son and daughter to get a very good education. They want to know that there’s a path from that education to the world of work. So, we are trying to articulate that in this new programming. As we look to the future, we want to connect the liberal arts with professional preparation.”
Wells explained that the new emphasis on finding pathways to careers does not mean that a solid liberal-arts education will be any less important at Maryville College.
“One of the effects of a poor economy in recent years is that we are seeing families as becoming more and more practical,” Wells said. “We are just as fully committed as ever to a liberal arts education; that’s the foundation of everything we do.”
Since the announcement of the new majors and minors happened so recently, the exact numbers of interested students has yet to be determined.
However, there are already 16 new exercise science majors.
Wells has great confidence that the new majors and minors will be well received by students at MC.
She also believes that they will serve to attract prospective students to Maryville College, giving enrollment a boost.
“It is very exciting,” Wells said. “We look forward to getting the word out. We think that current students will respond well as majors, but we also hope that they will be of interest to students who are thinking about Maryville College and are looking to major in these area.”