by Colton Campbell

The University of West Georgia will offer three new degree programs at UWG Newnan this fall, including a new type of degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Photo of University of West Georgia students sitting on a bench outside UWG NewnanDr. David Jenks, associate vice president of academic affairs, said the three new degrees will join a growing list of offerings at UWG Newnan, which started another new program last fall.

“We are proud to be increasing the flexibility in academics that’s needed for the workforce in Georgia and our local communities,” Jenks said. “This expansion in Newnan is intentional and has been a long time coming. Our current facilities are designed to run programs for between 1,800 and 2,000 students, and right now we have 961 students studying at our site, so there’s plenty of room for growth.”

Beginning fall 2018, UWG Newnan will offer bachelor’s degrees in social and behavioral health, interdisciplinary studies, and organizational leadership. In fall 2017, the location added a bachelor’s degree in health and community wellness through UWG’s College of Education (COE).

“As we expand our opportunities, we're going to attract more people in, and if people are seeing they can get a four-year degree in a geographic area that would benefit them, they're going to come to Newnan,” said Dr. Bob Heaberlin, who serves as the senior director and chief administrative officer of UWG’s off-campus programs. “We’re offering a great amount of Saturday classes and classes in the evening to allow our students to be more flexible if they want that traditional, face-to-face class setting.”

The organizational leadership program, housed in the College of Social Sciences (COSS), is targeted at non-traditional students, or returning adults, and will serve as a “launch pad” into the e-major offered at UWG, Jenks said.

“We want these non-traditional students to feel welcome at UWG Newnan and to return to a traditional setting they may be more used to,” Jenks said. “We’ll offer two classes in a cohort model so they can test the waters. Some students may decide finishing the program will require too much time and effort. Others will be able to launch directly into the e-major and can take their online classes anywhere they’d like. The object is to get them in the door.”

The new academic program will also bring administrative changes, as students will benefit from an expedited admissions process and a concierge service with a single point of contact during their enrollment to answer any questions they may have.

Interdisciplinary studies — which comes with a completely new degree for UWG that’s neither a bachelor of arts nor bachelor of science, but rather bachelor of interdisciplinary studies — will be a good fit for high-performing students who have varying interests but can’t find a fit elsewhere. These students will essentially design their own program based on their interests.

“Let’s say a student is really passionate computer science, but also has an interest in accounting and criminology,” Jenks said. “They want to use all their skills to detect fraud. An interdisciplinary studies degree will allow them to create a program that’s tailored to those interests and can be specialized to a specific workforce.”

Jenks said UWG representatives recently met with 30-40 business leaders in the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce, breaking out into small groups and asking the business owners what types of employees they need now.

“We’re taking that information and building those concentrations within the interdisciplinary studies degree so that students who have 70-100 hours of credit and aren’t necessarily in a certain program can get this degree with a specific concentration that’ll help them get a job that’s needed,” Jenks said. “There’s a decent-sized number of those types of students, and they can take the classes face-to-face, online or via hybrid instruction. It’s the ultimate in flexibility.”

UWG Newnan also will offer social and behavioral health — a new program UWG-wide for those who want to study the cultural, social, behavioral and mental aspects of health, in addition to health analytics, methods and services.

Students gathered around a laptopGraduates will have employment options in hospitals, court systems, public health agencies, human services, in-patient behavioral health facilities, case management, assisted living facilities and nonprofit organizations.

“This will be a great opportunity for students who can't pursue tracks in pre-med or nursing, where they're typically drawn, because those programs may not be the best fits for them,” Jenks said. “This will provide options that are also in the health care field with associated jobs in which they’ll thrive.”

In fall 2017, UWG Newnan began offering a degree in health and community wellness, housed in COE. The fastest growing major at UWG’s Carrollton campus, the program is already the largest in Newnan outside of nursing.

Jenks said UWG will continue to use its Newnan location as a test site in which new, innovative programs will be introduced.

“We have a fantastic partnership in Newnan with the city and community, which makes UWG Newnan the ideal location to launch new programs like these,” Jenks said. “We have physical expansion plans in the offing, with new construction planned to launch this summer. We’re excited about what’s happening at UWG Newnan and look forward to watching it grow both in size and in number of opportunities for our students.”

Posted on March 7, 2018