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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Echo

Majors showing growth at TU

The Taylor University student population is experiencing unprecedented growth with the largest incoming class in Taylor history recorded back in fall of 2023 with 564 students and 41 transfer students. Another record-breaking class is expected in fall 2024 with a goal of 575 incoming freshmen and 40 transfer students.

Taylor trends of growing majors include the following majors: computer science, engineering, business, education, health science, multimedia journalism, orphans and vulnerable children and psychology. 

Provost Jewerl Maxwell agreed with the notion of a national trend but also asserts students are increasingly choosing careers that have more direct career paths like computer science, business or engineering.

The nationwide popularity of these programs is not the only reason they are successful at Taylor as well. Holly Whitby, vice president for Enrollment and Marketing Department, acknowledged the overall growth of the student population but also said marketing of particular majors is another key factor.

“Most programs right now have more students in their major than, say, two or three years ago during COVID and when things were not growing,” Whitby said. “Especially in some departments where you typically do see more volume, we have done some additional marketing and advertising.”

One of the largest programs on campus is the Business Department — a department that continuously experiences annual growth. 

The Business Department boasts the greatest number of students with roughly 350 students. In addition to expert professors, the department offers extracurriculars such as the Investing Excellence club, where students are taught to be stewards of university money. Because of the success of the major, Jody Hirschy, associate dean of business and executive director of graduate programs in leadership, is interviewing prospective professors.

“I think we're seeing the explosion because in part, Taylor as a university has very clearly committed to our foundational documents, and we're very clear on who we are,” Hirschy said. “Our goal in Taylor business is to expose, immerse and engage students in preparation for Kingdom impact in the marketplace.”

In the wake of the business program’s success, Hirschy is hoping to introduce a school of business soon.

Matthew Renfrow was recently appointed as dean of the school of natural and applied science. While Renfrow acknowledges the success of the computer science and engineering department, he believes there is more growth in the computer science and physics field. 

Renfrow oversees six different departments, including computer science and engineering, physics and engineering, kinesiology, biology, chemistry and math. Renfrow believes the pull of these programs is that they lead more naturally into a career after college, opposed to other degrees that include a mandatory doctorate.

“There's a solid demand for engineers,” Renfrow said. “It’s one of the few majors at the undergraduate level that people can leave and right out of undergraduate make a very competitive salary without doing multiple years of graduate school.”

Renfrow recognizes there are successes in both areas of computer science and engineering and physics and engineering, mainly due to the faculty involved with them. While he is over the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors, Renfrow continually recognizes the value of the foundation built by other faculty in the department.

“(The) School of Natural and Applied Sciences has really great faculty who do really tremendous work,” Renfrow said. “We couldn't do great work in kinesiology if they didn't have a solid founding in biology or chemistry.” 

The work that faculty does for students extends outside of the classroom and is not forgotten or overlooked within any department, he said.

Additional areas of growth are in the education and psychology programs, spearheaded by Benjamin Hotmire, dean of Business, Education, and Social and Behavioral Science. Hotmire has been at Taylor as a dean for 10 years and said the success of these programs is based on the previous work put into them. 

“These three programs have been well established, and so I think that's part of the reason why there's been growth with them,” Hotmire said. “The way that Taylor does faith integration is not necessarily what faith integration means everywhere at all Christian universities.” 

Something unique to the Taylor education program is the inclusion of a mentorship between upperclassmen and incoming freshmen. In addition, the number of hours students spend inside the classroom is greater at Taylor than at other institutions with 500 hours of clinical training before student teaching begins, according to Hotmire.

Education students also have opportunities to travel abroad and learn about different teaching styles in other areas of the world, some being Rwanda, the Philippines and Belize.

In the psychology program, students have the opportunity to work in collaboration with professors on research projects within the Taylor community and beyond. 

Psychology students can also volunteer with the invitations program, stationed at the IU Health clinic on Main Street, Upland. This program puts students in the role of a practitioner, helping residents of Upland make changes to their health and happiness.

The final areas of growth are the orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and multimedia journalism majors. Both programs are overseen by Nancy Dayton, dean of Arts and Humanities. OVC is a program unique to Taylor because of its hybrid nature, Dayton said. 

“OVC overlaps a bit with social work and they are involved with organizations that help underserved people groups and underserved populations, and I think that it's a flavor of ministry as well,” Dayton said. 

Maxwell attributes the success of these programs to three integral contributions of passionate faculty, alumni success and a commitment to faith integration in all disciplines.