BJU consolidates majors, enhances academic programs

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BJU consolidates majors, enhances academic programs

Sophomore journalism and mass communication major Steph Schmidt practices with radio equipment. Photo: Jacob Larsen

Last semester the academic deans announced the restructuring of several majors within the University. Changes included the elimination of a few majors, but they primarily involved the absorption of smaller, related majors into broader ones.

The streamlining of majors is focused on upholding the University’s commitment to academic excellence and can benefit students in multiple ways.

While most of the adjusted majors will provide the same opportunities for customization that current programs do, in some cases, the opportunity for customization is even greater.

For example, in the School of Religion, the youth ministries and pastoral studies majors will be absorbed by the general Bible major, but this change actually gives ministerial students more options to customize their major to fit their specific goals.

The newly crafted Bible major includes 17 hours of electives that draw from all university classes. The former Bible major offered no room for additional electives. Ministerial students can now use the electives to focus their major toward plans for ministry. Dr. Royce Short, dean of the School of Religion, said the flexibility of the new major will leave the student in the driver’s seat. “The student now has the [capability] to choose what he wants to help him, whether it’s music, business, sports—you name it,” he said. “[The student] can choose those classes while still getting all of the Bible classes and ministerial classes.” Dr. Short also noted that the removal of certain majors does not mean those areas of study have been eliminated from the school. “Just because we don’t have a specific major that says ‘youth ministry’ or ‘evangelism’ doesn’t mean that we will not train people for those things anymore,” he said.

For some schools, the changes did not include the elimination of majors but rather the elimination of concentrations within the majors. Concentrations that were comprised of many similar classes have been combined to create fewer, more flexible majors under more streamlined labels.

Dr. Ryan Meers, chairman of the Division of Communication, said the changes within the School of Fine Arts and Communication were driven by the desire to strengthen the division’s cores.

The communication major is one example of this consolidation. The communication major was divided into three main concentrations: organizational communication, interpersonal communication and rhetoric and public address. In the past, students have been required to choose a concentration, but now incoming students will customize their emphasis through their classes directly and not through a stated concentration.

“On paper it might look a little more rigid, but in reality it’s not,” Dr. Meers said. “Most of the students in these concentrations were taking the same courses anyway, and their career goals were very similar, so we took the best of both and combined them.”

Dr. Gary Weier, executive vice president for Academic Affairs and chief administrative oversight officer, emphasized that the changes the University is putting into effect have been extensively analyzed in light of their benefit to the University and its vision. “We want clear outcomes and objectives,” he said. “This is about ensuring that we go forward focused on the strengths that the school was founded to uphold: a biblical foundation and a liberal arts core. This restructuring helps to reinforce what we are seeking to do—instilling not only skills but values. It’s more important to teach students how to learn and grow than it is to teach them the technical aspects of a vocation. It is there that our education is most valuable.”