UMass Dartmouth
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UMass Board of Trustees approves doctoral programs in Nursing and Portuguese Studies

Programs aimed at reducing nursing shortage and understanding Portuguese-American contribution

The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees today approved creation of Ph.D. programs in Nursing and Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies at UMass Dartmouth, advancing the university's mission to address the challenges and aspirations of its region.

"Both of these programs are central to the UMass Dartmouth mission," Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said. "We have a critical nursing shortage in our region and across the Commonwealth that needs to be addressed, and we have a rich Portuguese-American culture that is part of our community fabric and needs to be preserved and studied. Congratulations to the faculty and staff who worked so hard to establish these new programs."

The Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies Ph.D. program is the latest phase in UMass Dartmouth's achievement of international leadership in the field. The university has established the Ferreira Mendes Portuguese-American Archives, and publishes a highly regarded academic journal and book series that focus on Portuguese culture. Prof. Anna Klobucka of the Portuguese Department is also the lead author of a groundbreaking textbook -- Point of Encounter: Portuguese as a World Language - that focuses on both European and Brazilian Portuguese.

The nursing Ph.D. program is designed to qualify nurses to become faculty members, thus expanding the number undergraduate nursing students and beginning to address the chronic shortage of nurses in the region and the Commonwealth. UMass Dartmouth, for instance, has received nearly 900 applications for 115 freshman seats in the class entering in September, 2007.

"The establishment of a Ph.D. nursing program will contribute significantly to the mission of the university by facilitating the recruitment of faculty who are productive scholars, skilled to obtain external funding and attract first rate students," said Dr. James Fain, dean of the College of Nursing.

Dr. Fain said the Ph.D. program would provide one solution to the nursing shortage. "The shortage is not because of a lack of qualified students," he said. "The problem is an inadequate pool of people to teach them." Noting that the average age of nursing faculty is late 50's to early 60's, the program aims to educate the individuals who would replace retirees and expand the overall number of nursing faculty.

In addition to academic careers, nurses with doctoral degrees can meet a variety of demands in hospitals and other health care facilities. "Many opportunities exist for nurses to translate their research to the bedsides of patients," Fain said.

Fain describes the new program as "flexible and innovative." Courses are offered one-day per week and include three education classes and unique experiential activities that are integrated with the more traditional research methods courses. Multi-disciplinary seminars, hybrid courses combining face-to-face and online components, a brown-bag lunch series, guest speakers and summer activities are also planned.

Most importantly, doctoral candidates will immediately be matched with a faculty researcher and mentor in a mutual field of interest. "At this level, it's more to do with training future faculty in engaging nursing science research and method skills with a focus on chronic illness such as diabetes, heart failure or gerontology," Fain said. The Ph.D. studies complement the master's degree offerings by preparing not only nurse practitioners, but also nurse scientists.

The 54-credit degree can be earned on either a full or part-time basis over a three or four-year period. The College of Nursing currently has an enrollment of 630 students, with 87 pursuing master's degrees and 79 in the "RN to Be" tract. The Ph.D. program anticipates accepting an initial class of six students.      

Dr. William Hogan, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said, "The Portuguese department is clearly one of recognized strength and a signature program on campus. A Ph.D. offering, in collaboration with our Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture and Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese American Archives, completes the picture. The castle is built and this doctoral degree is its flag flying at the top."

Dr. Hogan said that the program would be the first stand alone, campus-specific doctoral degree in the College of Arts and Sciences and a logical extension of  a successful master's degree program and the growth of the Center and Archives.  

This fall, two faculty positions and an archivist will be hired to teach courses, manage the archives, present public lectures and undertake research related to the Portuguese-American experience. These individuals will work with the Portuguese department's five faculty members who external reviewers have described as internationally renowned and the strongest in the nation, according to Hogan.

He added that the Luso-Afro-Brazilian name refers to the fact that courses will cover not only literature and language, but also encompass the geography, politics, culture and critical theory of Lusophone people worldwide. Faculty from the departments of art history, history, sociology/anthropology, and political science will collaborate.

"We want to establish UMass Dartmouth as the pre-eminent intellectual center in the Portuguese speaking world," Dr. Hogan said.

The Ph.D will require a minimum of 54 graduate course credits and 12 dissertation credits. Applicants who hold a master's degree will be allowed to transfer up to 30 credits toward their doctorate. An initial enrollment of five to 10 students is expected and studies would range from two to five years.

Both programs still require approval by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. With these approvals, UMass Dartmouth will have seven doctoral programs, including those in Chemistry (joint program with UMass Lowell), Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Marine Science, Biomedical Engineering/Bio-technology (joint program with UMass Boston, UMass Lowell, and UMass Medical School).

Author:  "John Hoey"
Date:  14-Mar-2007
Department:   News & Public Information

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