Degree Programs Realigned to Create New Department at Utah State University
By Lynnette Harris |
To better serve the faculty and rapidly growing number of students enrolled in Utah State University’s College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, Dean Ken White this week announced changes in the structure of some departments and programs in the college. In short, existing majors and programs in the Aviation and Technical Education (AVTE) and Applied Sciences, Technology and Education (ASTE) departments are being realigned and an additional department created.
The new department will be comprised of degree programs in technology systems the outdoor product design and development (OPDD) program on the Logan campus, and USU’s growing statewide career and technical education courses that largely serve communities throughout southeastern Utah. Professor Brian Warnick will move from his position as CAAS associate dean for student services to become the interim department head. A new associate dean will be appointed sometime in the next few months.
CAAS aviation programs that train students for careers as pilots and aircraft maintenance technicians for both rotorcraft and fixed-wing aircraft, aviation operations managers, and unmanned aerial vehicle pilots, will be administered as a new department. Professor Bruce Miller has served as head of the AVTE department overseeing aviation and technical education and leads the new Department of Aviation Technology. While some students graduated this year and others will begin in the fall, the aviation program alone had 488 students enrolled during the past spring semester.
“Aviation has complex and uniquely structured degree programs, regulations and equipment, and the career and technical education programs have a lot of moving parts and options,” White said. “Together they have become just too much for one administrator, and our aviation programs in Logan and Price continue to grow. Change can be difficult, but it’s exciting to provide programs that serve so many students and address needs in our state.”
Professor Becki Lawver continues as head of the department of Agricultural Systems, Technology and Education, from which the OPDD program will be moved. The department has diverse degree programs, including agricultural communications, agricultural technology, and prepares students for jobs as secondary school teachers and community educators in agriculture, family and consumer sciences, business, and engineering technology. At the end of spring semester this year, the department had 313 students.
Warnick will oversee programs in Logan and the array of career and technical education programs that serve people at USU campuses and learning centers throughout the state, but especially at USU Eastern in Price, Blanding, and Moab. It’s a complex collection of education opportunities that give students training to earn certificates or associate degrees that make them immediately workforce-ready. The programs don’t all fit the traditional semester schedule as certificates can be earned in one or two semesters and some have open entry dates so students don’t have to wait until the start of a new semester to enroll. Many students need to gain a specific set of job skills quickly while they keep working a current job, and some are older students who are training for a second or third career.
While career and technical education is not new, USU’s approach is unusual with "stackable" programs that allow students to go on and use their credits as a foundation for earning bachelor’s and graduate degrees if they wish. During the past spring semester, enrollment in career and technical education courses and in OPDD totaled 796 students.
Warnick said when he arrived at USU in 2004 and joined the ASTE faculty, it was one of the smallest departments in a rather small college. That is clearly not the case now, he said. Technical education programs may seem an unusual fit for a Carnegie R1-ranked research university.
“I see these programs as important components of USU’s land-grant mission to create accessibility whether that‘s geographically or academically,” he said. “Our mission is to provide education and opportunities for everyone, including in rural communities. Our Blanding, Price and Moab campuses have great faculty who are making big impacts in people’s lives and communities and I think we’re just scratching the surface of the positive impact we can have working with the Navajo Nation. We’re making it possible for people to gain education, get better jobs, fill needs in our workforce, and stay where they are, in communities where they want to live.”
Warnick noted his admiration and appreciation for work Miller and Professor Gary Straquadine, who recently retired as USU associate vice president for technical education, and faculty have done to create industry and community partnerships, internships and apprenticeships, and design new ways of providing education in the state.
“After talking with faculty, our working title will be the Department of Applied Design and Technical Education,” Warnick said. “This is an exciting opportunity and I am passionate about what’s happening in both OPDD and technical education. On the flip side though, I am not excited to leave my current position where I get to work with our student leadership, fantastic advising team, and have a front row seat to what goes on with all of the college’s great faculty and students.”
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College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences
Head, Department of Applied Design and Technical Education
Associate Dean, College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences
Professor and Department Head
Applied Sciences, Technology and Education
Department of Aviation Technology
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