Cornerstone University to launch seven programs in 2015


Many of Cornerstone University’s new programs for 2015 are based on suggestions from current and prospective students. Courtesy Cornerstone University

The liberal arts core at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids is expanding next fall with the addition of several new majors and concentrations.

CU announced recently faculty and administration have approved seven new academic programs for the university’s traditional undergraduate education as of fall 2015 to meet the growing needs of prospective students and emerging labor-market opportunities.

With new concentrations for existing programs and completely new majors, the seven programs accepting enrollment for the fall 2015 are cardiac rehabilitation, child and adolescent services, community health, economics, health communication, information systems and pre-occupational therapy.

Both cardiac rehabilitation and pre-occupational therapy are considered new concentrations within the exercise science program, while child and adolescent services is a new emphasis in the psychology program.

Economics and information systems are the two latest additions to the majors within the Division of Business at CU, and health communication is a new bachelor degree within the Division of Communications and Media. The remaining new program, community health, is structured as a disciplinary major with practice-based courses.

Martin Hughes, dean of undergraduate academics at CU, said the conversation to develop the new programs was driven partially by feedback the university received from prospective students and applicants that was passed on from the admissions team.

“If you look at the array of offerings we provided before this recent activity, the offerings were comprehensive enough and diverse enough that they served many of our students well,” said Hughes.

“We were trying to respond to the interest on the part of prospective applicants and their families to provide additional options for people, and some of them are responding to new fields of activity in the economy and labor market.”

Combining prospective student feedback with market and feasibility studies to support the viability of the programs, the faculty and administration developed the new programs and refined existing curriculum. All of the programs underwent a proposal and governance process in which they were vetted and approved by faculty and administrators.

Hughes said the number of programs rolling out next year reflects the determination of the university to address changing labor market needs.

“It is kind of a laborious process, so the fact that we were able to have such a large number of programs approved in such a short time represents the collective will on the part of Cornerstone and its faculty and administration to really speak to the needs here in the state of Michigan and West Michigan region,” said Hughes.

“Like any school, we are trying to keep up-to-date and keep current on where the economy is headed, where the labor market is going and growing, but I think it truly reflects on the part of our institution the desire to serve students well.”

Another facet driving the introduction of new concentrations and majors stemmed from wanting to provide clarity to the correlation between an undergraduate academic program and a particular employment position, according to Hughes.

“Oftentimes it is a matter of providing the right terminology, the right nomenclature to a program that will help us get noticed, recognized and taken seriously as a contender,” said Hughes. “There were some new programs rolled out to look at emerging areas of need and opportunity, but also there was a certain amount of retooling, renaming and relabeling so the relationship between the curriculum and the occupational outcome was clear and understandable.”

The university anticipates hiring two new full-time professors to accommodate the new programs.

“We are really excited,” said Hughes. “We thought we were doing well before in terms of meeting that need, and we are really eager to improve on that performance and hoping that, as the word gets out, more students and families doing the college search will give Cornerstone a test drive.”

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