By Brooke Schultz
Washington College has plans to roll out two new science-based academic programs over the next few years, said President Kurt Landgraf in an interview with The Elm.
The programs will be a Master’s in Environmental Leadership and an undergraduate pre-health initiative.
These were developed to key into the “value proposition” of the College, Landgraf said.
“I’m still new enough here that I can be objective about this—we have so many really good things to offer people here, but we need to make sure that we don’t just use financial incentives. We need to make students understand the value that we have here. The centers—the Rose O’Neill [Literary House], the Starr Center [for the Study of the American Experience]; the fact that we have a [spot] on the Chester River, the center for environmental sciences.”
These two programs, he said, will be an addition to that list.
Landgraf takes no credit for the idea of a pre-health program, which he said was brought forth by Board of Visitors and Governors member Dr. Robert Snyderman, chancellor emeritus from Duke University.
“He wants us to provide the opportunity for all the health sciences, not just pre-med. We have the faculty here; we can really develop a terrific program. We have all these partnerships that you’re aware of—with Georgetown, Duke, other places,” he said.
For the Master’s in Environmental Leadership, on the other hand, he said, “The idea of combining our outstanding environmental science programs with our outstanding business programs, because of my background, I’m going to take a little bit of credit for.”
Landgraf said that the idea of offering a Master’s program again—which the College historically has had, but phased out—has been well-received from the campus community.
The programs will, and must be, coordinated with Provost Patrice DiQuinzio and the faculty, Landgraf said.
“It’s very important. I’ve already had my first set of meetings with significant faculty folks and the provost on this Environmental Leadership [program] and they’re very excited about it,” he said. “The faculty is already very interested in this undergraduate program in the pre-health sciences. Those are two areas I think will differentiate us.”
Landgraf said his goal is to have the programs “up and operational” in two years, in a “meaningful way.”
The initiatives were brought forth to the Board last Saturday as a way to let them know “some of the things we’re trying to do to change the value proposition for the College and some of our strategic initiatives,” he said.
For the students still early into their education, Landgraf said that there’s a possibility they would be able to take advantage of these programs while they were still enrolled at WC.
“I think we can move both of these programs quickly,” he said.
With a 61 percent discount rate for this year’s class, Landgraf said that the College cannot maintain the “kind of [financial initiatives] and support the faculty and students.”
“We know that we’re in a very competitive environment, in terms of liberal arts colleges, but we need to work hard at increasing the number of students that we have here,” he said.
These programs are a way to differentiate the College from other institutions, he said.
“I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t excited about it,” he said. “I think it’s really a good idea. We have everything we need to make this into world class programs.”