The Human Touch: TROY’s College of Health and Human Services trains tomorrow’s leaders in the field
About Dr. Damon Andrew, dean of the College of Health and Human Services
College of Health and Human Services – A closer look
Dr. Damon Andrew is excited about his new job and for good reason.
Dr. Andrew, who joined the University in July as the new dean for the College of Health and Human Services, has a front-row seat to watch a group of strong programs grow even stronger and to play a major role in those changes.
“I am excited by the challenges and opportunities available at Troy University,” Dr. Andrew said. “The College of Health and Human Services has a number of strengths and my goal as dean is to build on those areas and find ways to further enhance the reputation of the college.”
Perhaps the biggest change afoot is the University’s first doctoral program. TROY received approval from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education last fall to offer the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, pending approval by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The University has applied to the Commission for a level change that would elevate TROY to a doctoral-granting institution.
“The Doctor of Nursing Practice certainly puts the spotlight on our College and is a tremendous step for the University,” Dr. Andrew said. “It is a huge step for Troy University because it opens the door for additional doctoral programs and helps the University become competitive in that arena.”
Pending approval from SACS with a decision expected in December, the DNP program is targeted for implementation in Fall of 2009.
“We have a budget plan in place for the new faculty and resources that will be required for the program,” Dr. Andrew said. “Things will move forward fairly quickly once we receive approval. We have already had close to 200 inquiries concerning the DNP program and those are based solely on word of mouth. So, there is a lot of interest in the program.”
The move toward a doctoral program made Dr. Andrew is a good fit for the position of dean. Since 2006, he has served as director of the sports management doctoral program at the University of Tennessee. Prior to that, Dr. Andrew coordinated the University of Louisville’s doctoral program in sports administration.
“It is a big step in terms of the history of this University,” Dr. Andrew said of the doctoral program. “It is an exciting and challenging time to be a part of the College of Health and Human Services and that is what attracted me to the job.”
However, the College isn’t looking solely at the potential of a new degree program to take aim at the state’s health care challenges.
In July, the University’s School of Nursing received a $888,000 Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop learning and practice communities ultimately aimed at increasing the academic success of students in the attainment of undergraduate nursing degrees. The program will also provide scholarships and student stipends.
TROY, which offers the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, will implement student support programs in pre-nursing courses and retention activities for students in the nursing curriculum.
“The majority of the funds will go directly to students in the form of scholarships and stipends,” said Dr. Bernita Hamilton, director of the School of Nursing.
The funding will also establish “learning communities” for pre-nursing majors, develop workshops on critical thinking, test-taking, computer skills and provide tutorial assistance for students. Retention activities for students enrolled in nursing clinical courses include study courses for national licensure examinations, tutoring and enhanced clinical experiences.
Hamilton said another key area of the project – that covers Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Dallas, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lowndes, Macon, Monroe, Montgomery, Pike, Russell and Wilcox counties – will be expanding partnerships with area health care agencies to provide additional learning opportunities for TROY nursing students and externships, along with a move to encourage graduates from those counties to practice in those areas.
“The pursuit of the DNP program has really ramped up research and grant-writing activity among our nursing faculty,” Dr. Andrew said. “We currently have three other federal grant proposals in the works through our nursing faculty.”
And while health care issues tend to attract a great deal of attention publicly, there are many other areas within the College of Health and Human Services that are experiencing growth.
“Our Department of Athletic Training Education has a rich tradition of turning out graduates who are successful in the field,” Dr. Andrew said. “Looking at the training facilities we have here at TROY and the partnerships we have within the field, it is truly remarkable for an institution of this size.”
Dr. Andrew said there is some exploration taking place in terms of how this area of study can be expanded to encompass additional fields.
The Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion is another part of the College that is experiencing growth. Enrollment within the department has doubled over the last two years, Dr. Andrew said, and possible expansion of specialized offerings within Kinesiology and Health Promotion are also being explored. Dr. Andrew said that areas such as exercise science and coaching education are being studied as possible areas for expansion.
The Department of Human Services and Social Work also is experiencing tremendous growth.
Under the leadership of Interim Chair Denise Green, the programs are looking to expand offerings to TROY’s Dothan Campus by as early as fall of 2009.
“The Department of Human Services and Social Work accounts for $5 million annually in grants and contracts,” Dr. Andrew said. “The department has a solid reputation among the agencies and organizations within the state.”
With the solid reputation of its existing programs and the expansion of offerings that are in the works, it is not difficult to see why the College of Health and Human Services is experiencing growth.
Dr. Andrew estimates that student enrollment in the College is at slightly more than 2,000 students in both traditional and eCampus programs. Over the past two years, the College has seen an increase in its graduates by almost 20 percent.
“Career opportunities within these fields in terms of the demand from industries have increased,” Dr. Andrew said. “In some fields, salaries have increased; and in others, restructuring has led to more and better opportunities for bachelor-level graduates. The sports industry is the sixth largest of all industries in the United States, so people have become more aware of the opportunities that are available. The obesity epidemic in this country has certainly placed a greater demand on the health and fitness industries. Our Sports and Fitness Management program is by far the strongest in the state and has developed a strong reputation because of that. And, when you consider that citizen demand on the area of human services is ever increasing, the demand for qualified employees in the field has also grown.”
Dr. Andrew expects the College of Health and Human Services to continue to grow.
“There is great potential for partnerships within the community and with various organizations in the industry that will enable us to further broaden our services,” Dr. Andrew said. “It is an exciting time in the history of the College of Health and Human Services and Troy University.”
Ellis is a university relations coordinator and editor of Troy University Magazine.