Existing programs become 'new' majors

Every year at Mercyhurst College, new programs join the variety of majors and minors available to undergraduate students.

This year, two programs in particular have become available as majors: Russian studies and graphic design.

Graphic design was offered as a concentration within the art major in previous years, and the course offerings for this concentration have been steadily growing for years.

“It was actually on the level of a major, but it was just not being recognized as one,” Jodi Staniunas-Hopper, the program’s director, said.

Graphic design has enough students to justify its major status; Staniunas-Hopper estimated current enrollment at between 45 and 55 students.

Junior Lisa Bathory, the student in charge of the graphic design club AdPro, said, “I’m really glad graphic design is being offered as a full major now. It looks better on a résumé.”

The graphic design major was improved by this year’s addition of the digital media minor, which is a collaboration with the Communication Department.

Many of the new programs at Mercyhurst are programs that have existed previously as concentrations and contract majors and need only to go through a state-approved process of certification.

Another such previously-existing program is Russian Studies, which is in its first official year as a major.

Department Chair of Russian Studies Father Steven Simon said that many students who studied abroad in Russia had enough courses to qualify them for a Russian major, but they had to fill out vast amounts of paperwork in order to have a major in Russian Studies.

Many Russian Studies majors are also Intel majors looking to boost their portfolio, or are students looking to start commercial business ventures in Russia.

Another option for Russian Studies students is to continue learning about Russia at the post-grad level.

Whatever option they choose, “Students who go into job interviews with Russian Studies in their résumé get an edge for a lot of reasons,” Simon said. “It shows that they’re open to other cultures, and it’s a rare specialty.”

The continuing development of new programs at Mercyhurst, headed by the Department of Academic Affairs and Dr. Belfiore, shows that the faculty and administration of Mercyhurst continue to be open and receptive to the academic needs of their student population.