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Board of Regents approves two new degree programs

April 5, 2013

Meeting at UW-La Crosse, the board unanimously approved a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science and a Master of Science degree in construction management. Both programs are scheduled to be offered sometime during the 2013-14 academic year.

Jackie Weissenburger“Both of these new programs will fill a tremendous need in the environmental sustainability and construction sectors of the state’s economy,” said Jackie Weissenburger, interim provost and vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs. “The students who graduate from these programs will be in high demand in the workplace.”

UW-Stout has offered an environmental science concentration within the applied science degree program since 2008; the board’s action elevates that concentration to a full degree program. Sixty students are enrolled in this concentration. Officials estimate there will be 90 students enrolled in the new program by year five.

“The degree is being developed to respond to specific needs of the existing students at UW-Stout who have developed a strong interest in environmental sciences,” said Krista James, program director. “The creation of a more visible and standalone major in environmental science with four job-focused concentrations will clarify students’ educational experiences and expertise and thereby increase their employability.”

Concentrations will be offered in land resources, plant science innovations, aquatic biology and environmental health.

Krista JamesThe concentrations “will allow students to specialize in fields of expertise within the industry while still providing a strong foundation experience to cover the breadth needed to be successful within environmental science throughout their careers,” James said.

The median wage for environmental science jobs in Wisconsin was $52,200 nearly two years ago, James said. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the employment of environmental scientists will grow by 19 percent by 2020.

“Some factors in the projected job growth included an increasing awareness of environmental pollution and businesses' need to comply with clean air and water regulations,” James said. “These professionals would also be needed to provide environmental strategies in building construction, utilities, transportation and land restoration, particularly as more consumers and industries became eco-friendly.”

More information on the environmental science degree is available here.

The construction management master’s degree will be offered online. The program follows the implementation of a bachelor’s degree in the same field in 1989. “The continued recognition of the undergraduate degree for providing well-educated and motivated graduates in construction has led to the development of the M.S. in construction management to provide senior participants in the industry more in-depth skills,” a UW-Stout report to the regents said.

Glendali RodriguezAssociate Professor Glendali Rodriguez, construction department chair, said the program will “focus on leaders in the construction contracting side of the business and meeting the growing need for advanced professionals in the construction industry.”

“The program will prepare lifelong learners to become ethical and responsible leaders in pursuing studies in the built environment,” Rodriguez said.

The UW-Stout construction management advisory board, comprised of local, state, national and international professionals, has advocated for a master’s degree program, Rodriguez said. The targeted audience will be construction graduates with five or more years of experience in the industry.

The university surveyed employers and alumni to assure there would be demand for the program, she added. Officials estimate there will be 25 students in the program by the fifth year.

More information on the construction management advanced degree is available here.

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