July 25, 2007

Agriculture specialties become degree programs

by K.C. Jaehnig


CARBONDALE, Ill. — Two fully accredited specialties in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Southern Illinois University Carbondale have become separate undergraduate degree programs in their own right.

Students enrolled in the former dietetics and hospitality/tourism programs could earn the University's first bachelors' degrees in human nutrition and dietetics or in hospitality and tourism administration as early as December.

"These two programs were kind of hidden in the single food and nutrition major," said Todd A. Winters, chair of the animal science, food and nutrition department.

"They're both large enough in terms of enrollment to be majors on their own. This will let them have some identity, and I think it's going to help a lot in our recruitment. I really expect these programs to grow."

Not that either is small potatoes now. With 90 to 100 students in each, the two areas are already among the SIUC programs experiencing enrollment growth. The name change and status elevation should result in even more.

For one thing, increasing interest in health and the role diet can play has more students looking at these areas as possible careers, Winters said. Because at this point they're unfamiliar with professional terminology, they don't always realize that a major in food and nutrition with a specialization in dietetics is what they're looking for.

Prospective hospitality and tourism students have something of the same problem, only more so. Their course of study is offered by the Department of Animal Science, Food and Nutrition and is folded into the food and nutrition degree as a specialization.

"We have the first accredited program in the state with the largest enrollment of any program in any Illinois public university," Winters said.

"Making it a major will help students locate it (in the catalog), and we believe we will attract more students from Chicago as well as from outside the state."

Because both programs had national accreditation as specialties, neither will require revamped curricula immediately, though some changes will take place over time to reflect new faculty expertise. The department also hopes eventually to add a master's degree in the hospitality/tourism area.

"We have two graduate programs in the dietetics area but nothing in hospitality and tourism," Winters said.

Dietetics is accredited by The American Dietetic Association's Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education. Hospitality/tourism is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration. For more information on these programs, log on to coas.siu.edu, select "Academic Departments" from the menu on the left side of the screen and click on the Department of Animal Science, Food and Nutrition.