Adelphi adds neuroscience, supply-chain degrees

Rajib Sanyal, dean of Adelphi’s Robert B. Willumstad School of Business.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Two new Adelphi University degree programs will offer very specific, increasingly important foundations for future professionals.

The Garden City school has launched a bachelor’s degree program in neuroscience and a master’s degree program in supply-chain management. Both programs are open for immediate enrollment and will begin offering classes when the spring semester commences this month.

The neuroscience degree is designed to prepare students for medical school and other graduate-level studies, opening “a gateway to careers in the research industry” and fields related to psychology, biology, chemistry, physics, biomedical engineering, business law and others, according to the university.

The degree – which requires either 53 or 55 credits, depending on the concentration – is offered jointly by the Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies and Adelphi’s College of Arts and Sciences with two distinct concentrations: molecular neuroscience and cognitive neuroscience.

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Dean Jacques Barber

Jacques Barber, dean of psychology and head of the Derner Institute, said the new undergraduate program will prepare future medical students to work in research fields that have “exploded exponentially in the last two decades.”

“When I came to Adelphi two years ago, one of my goals was to create a neuroscience undergraduate major,” Barber said. “A program that would help students understand how we think and how we emote.”

Barber oversaw development of the new neuroscience program, which could not only help solve some of the mysteries of mental illness – one of the dean’s personal areas of study – but helps meet a growing medical demand.

“The [National Institutes of Health] is putting a lot of pressure on researchers to come up with biological models of mental illness,” Barber noted. “This is a major with a lot of promise and opportunity.”

The innovative supply-chain program – requiring 30 to 36 credits, depending on prior coursework – will “prepare students for careers in the rapidly expanding field of supply-chain management and logistics,” the university noted.

It also continues a national trend toward specialized degrees, according to Rajib Sanyal, dean of Adelphi’s Robert B. Willumstad School of Business.

“There is a national trend away from more broad-based MBAs,” Sanyal told Innovate LI. “The trend is toward more specialized degrees, whether it be in accounting or finance or human-resource management.

“There is a shortage of trained personnel familiar with the aspects of managing an organization’s supply chain,” he added. “This is an attempt on our part to meet the needs of employers.”

Those employers can range from major national chains – Sanyal cited Walmart, UPS and Federal Express as examples – to localized operations like restaurants and hospitals, all good candidates for supply-chain expertise.

But even with such a broad potential need, introducing a new degree program is no easy thing, according to the business school dean. Faculty and administrators constantly monitor trends, marketplaces, student course selections, employer surveys, hiring patterns, government data and host of other indicators – including new programs offered at competing schools – to determine if a new degree program is needed, Sanyal noted.

“We also consult with industry practitioners, and we have advisory boards in the business school,” he said. “We hear from chambers of commerce and other people in the field who say ‘this is what we need’ or ‘this is a growth area.’ Taken together, all of these things give us a sense of what we should look at.”

When a candidate program is identified, the real work begins: designing actual course loads and scheduling classes; earning internal and external approvals at various stages, including final approval from the New York State Department of Education; promoting the new program, so students are aware of the opportunity; and, as necessary, hiring new faculty.

“It’s a very thoughtful, deliberative, complex process,” Sanyal said.

Adelphi’s two new degree programs will require new faculty, including some recent hires already on staff. The Derner Institute hired a neuroscience professor last fall in anticipation of the new neuroscience program, Barber noted, and will look to bring on an additional professor – “something more related to cognitive science,” the dean said – in time for either Fall ’16 or Spring ’17.

The Willumstad School has brought on one new professor of supply-chain management “to start,” Sanyal noted, and will lean on a distinguished assortment of existing Adelphi teachers to get the new master’s program rolling.

“We certainly have very experienced faculty already in related areas,” Sanyal said. “As the program develops and enrollment increases, we will look again at our faculty resources.”

While his business school is always monitoring regional and national indicators to identify new potential degree programs, faculty will focus on making the new supply-chain program fly before considering any further additions, the dean noted.

“Our focus now is making sure that the new master’s program is successful, that we have enough enrollment and we’re able to place our graduates in appropriate jobs,” Sanyal said. “It’s not just launching the program that counts – we want to make sure the program is well-received by employers and the academic community.”