Catawba expands degree programs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 16, 2014

This year, Catawba College added four more degree programs to its list of more than 40 degrees and concentrations.
The college introduced a worship arts concentration to its music program and a major in theater design and production.
The arts aren’t the only department expanding on Catawba’s campus — the Ralph W. Ketner School of Business is also getting a new concentration in sports communication and a major in integrated marketing communication.
Last year, the college also introduced programs in mathematical finance and computer science.
New programs are introduced based on student and potential student interest and are driven by the college’s faculty.
“When we see opportunities that cut across departments or disciplines, it might be something worth pursuing,” Provost Dr. Michael Bitzer said.
“We try not to get so specific in terms of very narrow academic study areas, simply because today’s college graduates are going to have between five and eight jobs,” he said, adding that the college wants to prepare the students for all those positions.
Catawba students can now major in music with a concentration in worship arts.
The worship arts concentration stemmed from the popularity of the college’s popular music and music business program, as well as its praise band.
Director of Sacred Music and Worship Arts Dr. Julie Chamberlain said many of the popular music majors were specifically interested in the contemporary Christian music style.
“The number of students trying out (for praise band) was overwhelming,” she added.
“This degree, we think, gives them a more inclusive approach to music,” Chamberlain said.
Students are required to take classes in voice, guitar, conducting, church music and technology. Other courses include leading rhythm sections and praise band, choir and gospel choir ensembles.
“We want them to be that varied,” Chamberlain said, adding that they wanted to create a curriculum that would be flexible in an ever-changing industry.
Currently, six students are majoring in music with a concentration in worship arts, and 10 are minoring in worship arts.
Zach Hayes, a freshman from Chicago, found out about Catawba’s worship arts program from a family friend.
“I want to be a worship leader at a church and eventually a music teacher at a school,” he said.
Hayes is majoring in music with a concentration in worship arts and minoring in Christian ministries and education.
“There aren’t many accredited worship arts programs out there,” he said. “I felt that Catawba had the best program.”
The college also offers a sacred music major, oriented toward more traditional, liturgical church musicians.
“We’re not doing away with the sacred music concentration,” Chamberlain said. “They serve two different needs.”
Students can also receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts in design and production.
“We’ve had training in design and technical theater for as long as we’ve had theater here,” said David Pulliam, professor of theater arts, but added this is the first time students can receive a degree in the subject.
The program is geared toward students who want to work in the entertainment industry, and prepares them for positions as costume makers, theater technicians and designers for theater companies.
“Our students float back and forth between different parts of the entertainment industries,” Pulliam said, adding that the program is inclusive
“Theater’s been changing radically,” he said. “We needed to really invest some time and effort in preparing our students for the new technologies and new materials that are out there.”
While many of the students entering the design and production program have a theater background, they also come from art and music backgrounds.
Pulliam also said some of them have an interest in film work as well.
Catawba is also offering a 54-credit hour degree program in integrated marketing and communication, which gives students a holistic picture of digital interactive media, the Internet and marketing by blogs and social media.
“There has been a real shift from the way we look at traditional advertising, marketing and media,” said Tim Mooreland, chair of communication arts.
“The students were wanting to have a degree where they would be more competitive,” Cindy Allison Wittum, a communications arts lecturer, said.
The degree program in integrated marketing and communication prepares students for jobs as online media managers or brand consultants or in brand marketing, but the career options don’t stop there.
“There are new jobs being created in that field every day,” Mooreland said.
Students will be required to complete internships dealing directly with their course of study in order to prepare them better for professional life. In addition, each of the program’s professors has professional experience in the classes they teach.
After about 14 years of ideas and discussions, the college is offering a concentration in sports communication.
Catawba College is the perfect environment for a sports communication program, Mooreland said.
The college has a high percentage of student athletes — nearly 50 percent — and close ties to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
“That presents tremendous opportunities,” Mooreland said.
The program is geared toward students seeking positions in sports media, such as public relations for a professional sports team, sports information or sportscasters.
Students take classes in sportscasting, writing and marketing, as well as complete an internship. Radio is also integrated into the curriculum.
“It came from what I saw people in sports media needed to know,” said Mooreland, who was involved in sports communications for many years.
The concentration consists of six classes for a total of 18 hours.