Allied Health Sciences completes departmental review, launches 4-year major at Waterbury Campus

Wordmark: UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources Allied Health SciencesThe Department of Allied Health Sciences (AHS) has recently completed its first departmental review since its 2006 establishment within CAHNR, and the results were very favorable.

“The Department of Allied Health Sciences is highly regarded across the UConn campus,” says Indrajeet Chaubey, dean and director. “The department is a leader in preparing undergraduate and graduate students for health care careers that are in high demand. Many of the faculty are nationally recognized research leaders addressing key questions that matter to the everyday health and well-being of citizens of Connecticut and beyond. I am very proud of the strong collaborations developed by the department faculty and how they utilize these collaborations to serve our stakeholders.”

Each CAHNR department is required to go through a review every eight years to evaluate the department’s teaching and research programs. While professional programs have oversight from accrediting agencies, the department must review all programs to ensure that they meet industry standards. The process includes input from external reviewers, provost and vice-provost; dean and associate dean; and the department head, faculty, staff and students.

“We are well positioned to meet many of the priorities in society surrounding health issues, and we found the review process to be an informative and instructive experience,” says Justin Nash, professor and department head. “Our department completed its first strategic plan in 2009, and the development of a second strategic plan was started in 2015 but eventually put on hold until a new department head [Nash] was hired. We were in need of a self-study and external review, which will help us get back to strategic planning.”

“We examined every aspect of the department, with its high enrollment, diverse disciplines and professional programs,” Nash continues. “While the future direction of the department will be clarified with upcoming strategic planning process, we believe that the review process and recommendations from the external review team help in identifying areas to focus our attention. The recently completed CAHNR visioning process also helps the department determine where to focus strategically.”

AHS department strengths highlighted by the external reviewers include:

  • The department is highly regarded on campus and nationally.
  • Its faculty have prolific external research funding from prestigious organizations, partnerships on campus and research opportunities provided to students.
  • The department provides excellent advising, teaching and professional training, with commitment to students and high pass rates on accreditation exams.
  • Excellent leadership is provided by the Justin Nash and by Dean Chaubey’s extensive knowledge of the College and University.
  • There is strong commitment to future excellence by the department head, faculty and staff in research, teaching and student success.

“The review includes fourteen considerations, all of which provide opportunities for program enhancement and growth,” Nash says. “We agree with the review team recommendations and believe that by following them, our programs will be considerably strengthened. We believe the improvements will also be aligned with University priorities, including growing research funding, increasing philanthropy and developing master’s and entrepreneurial programs.”

The report goes on to say that the department includes several unique and diverse disciplines, degrees and certificates, and suggests growing the Ph.D. program and adding additional professional certifications to include additional health topics. Among the recent department additions is the Ph.D. program in health promotion sciences.

The department is also expanding at the Waterbury Regional Campus, providing a four-year allied health sciences major. Students entering the program in fall 2020 will be able to complete their degrees at the Waterbury Campus.

“The campus administration approached us as regional campuses are searching for ways to address work force demands and build enrollments,” Nash explains.

Prior to this, students at Waterbury campus transferred to Storrs once they completed their general education requirements. This onsite major will make a difference for nontraditional students or those needing to commute closer to home. Students entering the AHS major this fall will be able to complete all degree requirements at the Waterbury campus. The department has hired its first faculty member based in Waterbury, Assistant Professor in Residence Tamara Kaliszewski, and plans to hire up to three more in the next few years.

“We are excited to provide this program to students,” Nash says. “It is partnership between our department, Associate Dean for Academic Programs Sandy Bushmich, and the Waterbury Campus administration.”

By Kim Colavito Markesich