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New community health major is collaborative

Rachel Creagan
Staff Writer

Starting in fall 2011, the University of La Verne will offer a bachelor of science degree in community health.

Provost Greg Dewey recognized the potential in developing this new major, which was designed by Kent Badger, professor of health services management, and Jerome Garcia, professor of biology, as well as faculty from Claremont Graduate University.

“What this program does, is provide a degree for students that we could not put together alone,” Badger said.

The program is designed to train graduates to work with organized community efforts in a variety of settings on disease prevention and health promotion.

Students enrolled in the program can participate in a Master of Public Health track for CGU, and complete the M.P.H. program in one post-baccalaureate year.

“As a biology professor, most of my training is in the realm of theory,” Garcia said.

“I would not know how to take theory and administer it to actual people.”

Community health combines theory, the practice of science and administering it to the people.

A community health professional knows a little of everything because they have their hand in each of these parts of the process.

When the college of public health moved from USC to Claremont, they lost most of their large undergraduate population.

Dewey, who was at Claremont when the move happened, became acquainted with Andy Johnson, dean and professor of community health and psychology.

“They have this whole interdisciplinary crew of people,” Dewey said. “I always thought he ran a very complete, modern operation.”

This sparked the idea of having Claremont teach La Verne undergraduates.

“I thought, ‘Wow, wouldn’t that be a cool synergy of things because they know how to teach undergraduates, but aren’t doing it anymore’,” Dewey said.

CGU has no clinical resources in biology and the sciences.

This collaboration was a result of the universities pulling together and providing an advantage to students.

“We have this unique agreement between the universities,” said Darleen Schuster, assistant director for the master of public health program at CGU. “Not a joint program per se, but an articulation agreement that we have between the two schools.”

There are courses taught on the graduate level, so if a student is admitted into the M.P.H. program, those courses transfer and they are already half way done.

“Basically, we took courses from Claremont and tweaked them to make them more La Verne and a bachelor’s, so we never had to build from the ground up,” Garcia said.

“We are going to use this first year to really organize the students and make sure everyone is on the same page and has all of their prerequisites in line,” he added.

This could be another major to help students get into high-powered or popular career paths.

“A person with a B.S. in community health could go into a pre-health science emphasis, administration or hard-core community health, specializing somewhat in all three,” Garcia said. “That is the beauty of this particular major, its flexibility.”

“It is a very diverse program,” Dewey said. “You can do a lot with it, and that’s appealing.”

“This is an extremely imaginative way that serves the students purpose, but doing it while making use of slack resources,” Badger said.

Rachel Creagan can be reached at rachel.creagan@laverne.edu.

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