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open worlds of opportunity BY RON BROWN Dr. David DeWitt is a man on a mission. Like many academic deans at Liberty University, the chair of the Department of Biology & Chemistry is always evaluating curriculums and recommending new majors that will make the programs more educationally relevant. As he does his evaluations, DeWitt wants to ensure that courses remain pertinent in the classroom and equip Liberty students for future employment opportunities. “We are seeing the results of our students getting into medical school and graduate school,” DeWitt said. “We are trying to provide a variety of options in the sciences rather than providing a one-size-fits-all major. We are tailoring and targeting our programs to student interest and job demand.” While Liberty has always had a reputation as an excellent teaching university, it is also known for thoroughly preparing its students to land

full-time jobs upon graduation. That emphasis, reinforced by the university’s Christian values, is a primary reason that the default rate on federal student loans for Liberty students is less than half the national average. For the past three years, DeWitt has been enhancing the biology and chemistry programs by strengthening their academic core. The department has added degree programs in zoology, cell and molecular biology, and environmental biology, and has beefed up coursework in biomedical science, which prepares students to take entrance exams for medical school. Last year, Liberty students scored above the national average on the Medical College Administration Test (MCAT). Across campus, new majors are constantly in the planning stage. Dr. Ron Godwin, Liberty’s senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, said two exciting programs being added are a

doctoral degree for nurse practitioners and a master’s degree for physician assistants. While the nurse practitioner degree program will be overseen by the university’s School of Health Sciences, the physician assistant program will be part of the new College of Osteopathic Medicine, which opens in 2014. “If you want to be a physician assistant, you’ll be able to be in a program directed by the dean of the medical school and taught by physicians teaching in the medical school,” Godwin said. Students in the PA program will also be able to get required training hours in a new clinic offered by the School of Health Sciences. The following are some of the new residential majors for the 2013-14 school year. For information on the more than 20 new academic programs being offered through Liberty University Online, the nation’s largest private, nonprofit online educator, visit


Liberty Journal Fall 2013