BJU President Steve Pettit announced Wednesday that BJU will open the School of Health Professions in the fall of 2018. Immediately following Pettit’s chapel announcement, a University press release publicized the news to a broader audience.
“Here at BJU, we’re committed to providing high quality, in-demand programs that prepare students to make a difference in their communities,” Pettit said.
“With this new school, we’re updating our academic mix to meet changing workforce demands.”
The school will bring together existing majors from the Divisions of Exercise & Sport Science, Nursing and Health Sciences.
A projected 18 percent growth in healthcare occupations from 2016 to 2026 will add an estimated 2.3 million jobs to the market according statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Dr. Gary Weier, the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said demand for healthcare professions, the success these programs have had and the opportunity for believers to serve in these areas led to this development.
“We believe it is a significant step to carry BJU forward into the future,” Weier said.
“This is bigger than the School of Health Professions itself. It is about providing quality education programs for our students so that they’re prepared for their future.”
According to Weier, the new school will be the second largest in the University, behing only the School of Arts and Science. The school will also offer new majors within the next several years.
The vision statement for the new school is as follows: “The School of Health Professions aspires to be the leader among Christian institutions and universities in providing rigorous and innovative health care education and training.”
The school will be designed with interprofessional collaboration so that students will know how to interact with other healthcare professionals.
Dr. Renae Wentworth, the dean of the College of Arts and Science, said, “It’s no longer just the primary care physician over here, nurses over here and physical therapists over here.
“You’re assigned to a patient and you have a team that works with you and that’s relatively new to the healthcare profession.” Interprofessional collaboration in the School of Health Professions will allow students to collaborate with other related majors as they will in the real world.
While nothing is set in stone, the faculty is excited about future activities such as seminars and workshops Wentworth said.
While changes will inevitably occur with this new school, the programs and faculty initially will remain the same. Significant changes such as facility and program expansions will likely occur in later years. Weier said the biggest initial change will be greater visibility.
Dr. Jessica Minor, an assistant professor in the Division of Natural Science, will serve as the interim dean of the School of Health Professions. The University is seeking a permanent dean.
“Everybody’s really excited about this,” Minor said. “The general consensus from the faculty perspective is that this is going to be very helpful in the future.”