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New degree satisfies demand

Columbia College will offer a program in human resources
Monday, September 19, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:23 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Proving that customer service is important even in higher education, Columbia College has created a new major to satisfy student demand. Starting this fall, Columbia College students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration will have the option to major in human resource management.

“We offered six other business majors, but directors from the college’s nationwide campus made it clear that the real cry was for a human resource degree,” said Eric Cunningham, associate dean for adult learning.

Gay Albright, an adjunct faculty member, was hired as an independent consultant to facilitate the design of the major. Cunningham said Albright was chosen because of her strong background in human resources and her experience in the corporate world.

Albright looked at human resources programs offered at other institutions and came back to Columbia College with recommendations.

“Gay found three critical course offering voids,” Cunningham said. As a result, three new courses were added to the catalog, two of which are requirements for the major.

In addition to 12 hours of required coursework, human resource management students will have to complete six hours of electives.

For now, the major will be offered in the evening campus, as well as online, because most of the demand for human resource training came from adult students attending the College’s evening sessions.

Though Cunningham cannot predict the exact number of students who will choose to enter the new major, its creation was a direct response to student demand. Cunningham said he thinks students are mindful of job market trends.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field of human resources, training and labor relations managers and specialists is projected to increase 21 to 35 percent for all occupations through 2012.

“This field has become very important in the world of business because of the recognition of how valuable people are to an organization,” said David Miller, an adjunct faculty member in the evening division at Columbia College.

The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center projects that human resource management jobs in Missouri will increase from 4,440 in 2002 to 5,090 in 2012, representing a 15 percent employment change, with an average of 140 annual openings.

“As companies continue their recognition of how important the human resource is, they will be utilizing more professionals in this area. I view the career potential very optimistically,” said Miller, who teaches human resource management, one of the required courses for the new major.

The state economic research center rates employment in the area of benefits, compensation and job analysis slightly higher than employment in human resource management. Based on job openings, percent growth and average wages, jobs in benefits, compensation and job analysis received a grade of A-minus, while human resource managers earned a B-plus for the period of 2002-2012.

“We are not plowing any new ground,” Cunningham said. “We simply looked at common curricular offerings in good quality human resource programs, and we modeled our program after them.”


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