NVU majors: out with the old and in with the new


Jacob Greenia

Nolan Atkins

One of the oft-spoken about benefits of unification, the addition of new majors, has, in the past, been overlooked in order to focus on more crucial pieces of the task. Now that the main parts of uniting the two campuses are underway, departments have started focusing in on new majors and new ways to bring students an innovative education. One such major is a new blend of math, computer science, and business, known simply as “Data Science.”

What is data science? According to DataRobot, “data science is the field of study that combines domain expertise, programming skills, and knowledge of math and statistics to extract meaningful insights from data.”

Here at NVU, this new program is designed to help students learn, apply, and communicate through data science in order to find a career in their future.

“Data science is a new field that is a big growth area for careers,” said Dr. Gregory Petrics, associate mathematics professor. “It is not quite a math or computer programming degree or business degree, but the overlap of those three things that is a highly sought after skill set in the workplace.”

This new degree program will be offered with a bachelor’s of science, and will add four new course requirements to support the degree. These include, “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information,” “Statistical Computing in R” a continuation of Statistics, “Data Science I,” and “Data Science II.” The four courses are designed to be taken in order each academic year with mathematics, business, and computer science courses, as well as the general core. With the pairings of those three main subjects, Petrics added “This new degree program that we are working on is meant to address this skills gap in this industry.”

The design of this program is being integrated with the liberal arts core at NVU. The program allows students the time to finish the general core and the data science program during the student’s career. The three core subjects seem intimidating, but these are classes where data scientists will grow and learn best during their undergraduate career. Courses outside the program will help to enhance the learning of data communication and help with addressing real world situations and analytics. The top college competitors for data science in Vermont are the University of Vermont in Burlington and Saint Michael’s College in Colchester.

There is also a change in the Mathematics programs at both the Johnson and Lyndon campuses. At each campus, there are different math degree programs. While the programs almost align, each program currently has a different set of requirements. Petrics said, “We want to put those two programs together. A few courses will be removed because enrollments were low.” Many of the current core course will remain the same, and elective courses will be chosen by the students, with the guidance of their advisors.

There are some changes to other degree programs as well. Psychology at Johnson and Applied Psychology at Lyndon are working on the addition of new upper level courses. “Anthropology and Sociology is now being taught by Dr. Janet Bennion,” said Provost Nolan Atkins. “The English departments are doing the same thing as math. English at Lyndon, English at Johnson, they have agreed upon a common degree that will be accessible for students on both campuses.”

The environmental science program may be facing the same conjoining in the future, or one campus may give up their program. Science programs may be facing a change or new vision as well. “With the health science program here (Johnson), we are teaching out the Physical Education concentration,” said Atkins. “It was not compliant with the state and had very few individuals enrolled.” The Visual Arts program is working towards making a change with a set course curriculum with offering courses more frequently.

The Performing Arts programs is set to undergo a whole new redesign created by professors Issac Eddy and Justin Rito. History and Political Science have no action or inquiry for changes. “The plan with Journalism is to teach out the program and develop a new Professional Writing degree with Tyrone Shaw,” said Atkins.

There are many changes, adjustments, additions and departures to some NVU programs. Many current programs in the future will change as well, and new additions will come as departments continue to develop and change with NVU.