A new school year will bring more academic opportunity for SUNY Cortland students, with three majors added in science, business and education.
Starting in the fall, students officially can declare majors in environmental geoscience, healthcare management and inclusive early childhood education. The new programs reflect retooled curricula that will help prepare students for a wide range of rewarding careers.
SUNY Cortland now offers 67 academic majors across the College’s School of Arts and Sciences, School of Education and School of Professional Studies.
“As an institution of higher learning, our top priority is the education of our students — one that prepares them in all ways for a fulfilling life after Cortland,” said College President Erik J. Bitterbaum. “To that end, it’s crucial to always assess our academic offerings, making sure that they align with student interests, provide critical thinking skills and meet the needs of a changing workforce. These three new programs are exciting for many different reasons.”
Here’s a closer look at each new major:
Students who have an interest in earth science and solving environmental problems should consider this new offering in the Geology Department. Graduates are trained to tackle issues such as water pollution, stream bank erosion and flooding in an increasingly interdisciplinary field.
A core curriculum in geology and environmental science is supplemented by coursework in areas such as ecology and geographic information systems, which provide an understanding of other sciences and useful technical skills. Electives and a required internship allow students to consider topics that interest them the most.
Possible internship destinations may include a nature preserve, a government agency, a local soil and water conservation district, a landfill operation, an environmental consulting company or a non-profit organization.
“There are other environmental science and environmental studies programs in New York but they tend to have more emphasis on biology or policy,” said Professor David Barclay, chair of the Geology Department. “Ours is different because we emphasize the geology that is critical for understanding environmental problems in water and at the land surface.”
The College’s new major replaces a concentration that previously existed in geology. SUNY Cortland alumni have gone on to careers with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, local soil and water agencies and private companies.
One of the first four-year programs of its kind within the SUNY system, this degree prepares students for roles that include finance, human resources or business management across various settings — hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and larger healthcare systems.
The major links the College’s strong reputations in business economics and public health while providing training in a fast-growing field. The projected growth rate for health services managers by 2024 is 17 percent nationally and 12.5 percent in New York state, with an average annual salary of $128,470 for hospital administrators statewide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“We want students to know that healthcare management could be an exciting option if they’re interested in health or business or both,” said Bonni Hodges, SUNY distinguished service professor and chair of the Health Department. “And we’re not pulling it out of thin air. Instead, we’re building on SUNY Cortland’s success in two disciplines. We’re introducing a well-designed entry point to a fulfilling career.”
The Economics and Health departments will share the cross-disciplinary major, which replaces the healthcare administration and planning concentration within the community health major. Recent graduates are working in a variety of roles and settings, including hospitals, physicians’ offices, outpatient care centers, rehabilitation facilities and home healthcare service agencies.
In addition to joining one of the largest and most respected teacher education networks in the country, students earn dual certification in early childhood education and early childhood: special education, learning to teach students of all abilities from preschool settings through second grade. Early childhood education and early intervention provide the foundations that all children need to be successful in school and within their communities.
“This new major will offer students the unique opportunity to provide some of the best integrated curriculum as well as needed interventions for young children across many settings,” said Associate Professor Kim Rombach ’88, chair of the Childhood/Early Childhood Education Department. “In the field of early childhood education, the need and desire for expertise in inclusive practices and interventions has grown.
“Graduates of this program will fulfill that need and the vision of assuring children start their education in the best and most inclusive settings.”
The unique structure of SUNY Cortland’s teacher education programs allows teacher candidates to complete student teaching in their choice of region, including in New York City, on Long Island, in the Syracuse, Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo or Utica areas, and in locations in and around Cortland.
A highly-respected degree, dual certification and the opportunity to student teach in a region where candidates wish to work make the new inclusive early childhood education major a strong option for future educators.