This fall, students will be able to earn an associate of applied science degree in either medical informatics or allied health, in addition to two new emphases within the associate of applied science in general technology degree.
Students who pursue the general degree can choose to have their studies emphasize either culinary arts or hospitality management.
Dr. Denise King, vice president of academic affairs, said the new offerings are part of the college’s efforts to meet demands for potential employees trained in skills related to fields like health care.
The medical informatics major would allow its graduates to seek jobs at doctors’ offices and hospitals working with patient records.
King said the program’s curriculum will focus a lot on the technological side of things, since many patient records are nowadays kept in computer databases that can be accessed by medical professionals on a variety of electronic devices.
“That’s a way in which we’re being responsive to changes in the technical environment that continues to evolve around us,” King said.
The allied health degree is primarily geared toward transfer students from institutions like the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology who may have some of the technical training they need to work in health care but need extra college credits to earn an associate’s degree.
King said students studying allied health can use it as a means to finish what they have already started or pursue it as a major from the very first semester of their freshman year, incorporating classes from Cleveland State’s existing health care offerings.
The general technological degree’s two new emphases in culinary arts and hospitality management represent the college being “responsive” to local demands and carrying on what some local high school students have been learning in school already, said King.
Some area high schools, including Bradley Central High and Cleveland High, have allowed their students to take classes in culinary arts and hospitality management, and King said the new emphases within an existing major at Cleveland State will allow students to continue what they started.
This summer, the college’s workforce development department began offering culinary arts-theme camps for middle school students as a way for the college to guage interest in the culinary arts field.
King said the college’s summer camps, which cover a range of topics from robotics to video production, allow children to get interested in a subject, and the hope is that they will also want to study those subjects after high school.
“We view them as our future students,” King said. “It’s really trying to early on light that fire.”
There are no plans to have stand-alone culinary arts or hospitality majors yet, but Dr. Bill Seymour, president of Cleveland State, called that “an area of interest.”
He explained that a lot of time and research goes into developing a new college degree program.
“We have to demonstrate ... that there is sufficient interest out there and that there are jobs available.” Seymour said.
In addition to the planning done within the college, it also has to create a proposal of a new major and have it approved by its governing institution, the Tennessee Board of Regents, and its board of trustees.
Both Cleveland State administrators stressed that they would be looking into adding new college degree programs in the future as the demands for employees new fields grow.
King said she expected that new technologies in manufacturing and other fields will continue to create job titles that have not existed before.
“We’re kind of in the midst of a period of change,” King said. “Our education needs to be anticipating where we’re going next.”
The “strategic planning” sessions the Cleveland State plans to begin next month could help the college decide which new majors might be needed in the future, Seymour said.
While creating a long-term plan that has been dubbed the “Cleveland State 2020 Community First Plan,” the college will be holding a variety of public meetings that will allow faculty and staff, local business leaders and other community members to determine what the college should do to improve.
“It’s not just going to be faculty and staff sitting around a table,” Seymour said.
Exact times and dates for those planning meeting have not yet been announced, though Seymour said they are expected to begin in August.