U’s Rochester campus to begin first undergraduate degree

High school students interested in the health sciences could be flocking to the newest University of Minnesota campus as early as next year. The UniversityâÄôs Rochester campus, the newest coordinate campus in the University system, will begin offering its first ever four-year undergraduate degree in fall 2009. The school will admit up to 150 students to the Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences during its first year of operation. UMR Chancellor Stephen Lehmkuhle described the new degree as a program that would âÄúprepare students to pursue a variety of health career options.âÄù He said it was one of the âÄúhigh pointsâÄù in UMRâÄôs history. The Rochester campus was formally established as part of the University system in December 2006 , although it has been providing degrees, both graduate and undergraduate, through the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses since the 1960s. The BSHS will be RochesterâÄôs first undergraduate degree to be offered on its own. Lehmkuhle said the program would involve a number of âÄúcapstoneâÄù courses intended to give students firsthand experience in the field they have an interest in. Depending on the specific field within health sciences, students could potentially be taking classes at RochesterâÄôs Mayo Health Clinic . The clinic has partnered with Twin Cities campus programs in the past. According to Mayo Clinic Operations Manager of Academic and Faculty Affairs Melanie Ryan, UMR and Lehmkuhle kept in touch with the clinic and received input during the creation of the degree. Ryan said she expects there to be some collaboration between the two institutions, but that theyâÄôre still âÄúin the process of developing that relationship.âÄù According to Lehmkuhle, much of the âÄúexperiential piecesâÄù of the BSHS curriculum will occur in the Mayo Clinic. UMR Enrollment Management Coordinator Jade Bakke said the school was âÄúvery excitedâÄù about the student interest at the Minnesota National College Fair held in Minneapolis earlier this month. Bakke said some 800 senior high school students in southeast Minnesota alone have expressed an interest in the proposed health sciences program. DonâÄôt expect there to be any other new degrees for the time being, though. Lehmkuhle said his plan is to have 750 to 1,000 students enrolled in the BSHS program over the next five years, and that he plans to focus on making it a âÄúnationally knownâÄù program before adding more degree programs. UMR will still continue to be an extension of the Twin Cities campusâÄôs educational resources, despite this first step towards a more independent undergraduate campus. âÄúThat’s been our history and that will continue to be part of our activities,âÄù Lehmkuhle said.