APC questions public health admission policy

By Markos Moulitsas

Questions concerning the open admission policy of the bachelor of science in public health arose during the Academic Planning Council’s review of the program.

The B.S. in community health and the master’s degree in public health were reviewed by the APC as part of the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s ongoing Priority, Quality and Productivity process. Currently, the IBHE is reviewing health- related programs.

Finance Professor Richard Dowen, chair of the subcommittee reviewing the two programs, said the committee was unable to determine whether the open admissions policy of the B.S. program was a weakness or a strength of the program.

Gina Piane, coordinator of the community health program, said, “We haven’t found it to be a weakness yet.”

Responding to concerns that open admissions attracts lower caliber students to the program, Piane said, “We have a high retention rate. When we have an 85 percent graduation rate, it can’t have too many marginal students.”

Assistant Provost Lynne Waldeland said because of the science aspect of the major, community health has acted very much like a limited admissions program.

“With the science component (present in the B.S. program), it’s not something that students just wander into,” Waldeland said.

Related to the question of limited admissions were concerns raised about the large class sizes in the program.

The average class size in the program is 70 students, much higher than the average class sizes of 15 to 30 students in self-identified reference schools.

“We have begun an investigation on how we can best address this concern,” Piane said. “We have discussed limiting our enrollment. (However) I don’t think the size of our classes relates to the quality of our teaching.”

Provost J. Carroll Moody retorted, “If it has no affect on quality, then why is there concern?”

Piane said although class sizes were not excessively large now, there was concern they would grow larger, and eventually impact the quality of the program.

“As classes get larger, there is a tendency of professors to give multiple-choice exams instead of essays,” she said. Still, she emphasized that this was not yet happening.

Also discussed at the meeting was the condition of library resources.

The review committee reported, “It is not clear whether library resources are adequate to support the program.”

Piane said the inter-library loan system was allowed access to adequate amounts of research material. The system allows the sharing of resources between libraries across the nation.

“There is no library in the United States that can afford to buy everything, so libraries are working together more,” Moody said.

Public and community health are designed to aid communities in health promotion and disease prevention. Activities in these fields include lobbying, health education and vaccination programs.