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April 7, 2010
In concert with the strategic plan of the College of Health and Human Services, the
college seeks approval from the Board of Visitors and SCHEV for the creation of a new
Department of Nutrition and Food Studies (NFS). The full proposal has been reviewed and
endorsed by the Provost and the Deans and Directors of the university. The existing Department
of Global and Community Health (GCH) has served as the primary academic incubator for
several courses, concentrations and certificates in nutrition, which generate approximately 20%
of the student FTEs in that department. After approval and a year of further internal planning, the
Department of Nutrition and Food Studies will commence in fall, 2011, and current courses and
certificates will migrate to it. NFS eventually will offer graduate and undergraduate programs in
nutrition/dietetics (RD), public health nutrition, food studies, and culinary arts.
A collaborative arrangement with the College of Science will allow CHHS to build essential
food science courses for degrees and concentrations. Possible collaborations with the College of
Science include programs in Food Chemistry, Nutritional Genomics, Nutritional Biochemistry,
and Food Security. Once the food science collaborations are in place, the department will be able
to explore options for an innovative program in Culinology, which combines food science with
the culinary arts. Programs of research in the new department will build on existing faculty work
in the areas of childhood obesity, maternal and child health, and vulnerable, underserved, and
disadvantaged groups.
Support for the new department will come from enrollment growth and research productivity. In
addition, we are already working with the university Office of Development on gift and naming
opportunities for the programs and faculty in the proposed department. Space already has been
approved by the university Space Administration Committee for a kitchen to support the food
studies elements of the program (location to be determined), and offices have been reserved in
the NE Module to house faculty and graduate research assistants.
The new department will be on the cutting edge of the movement to modernize health care. One
of the core principles this effort is that prevention of illness is a better and less expensive
approach than care of the already sick, and no element of prevention is more salient or ripe for
intervention than eating habits. With First Lady Michelle Obama as its champion, nutrition is
quickly moving to the foreground of the health care debate. Two of the fastest growing health
problems in the U.S. are the closely linked conditions of obesity and diabetes, both of which are
related to poor nutrition. The programs instruction and research in NFS will provide an
integrated approach to understanding nutrition that will enable students to design interventions to
effectively manage these problems.