Southeastern University has experienced explosive growth in the past decade-plus, as enrollment numbers, degree programs and staff/faculty size have increased since the early 2000's.
The trend will continue this fall with the creation of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, giving SEU five colleges that provide students with 44 undergraduate and 11 graduate degree programs from which to choose.
Dr. Larry Hazelbaker, dean of the college, said the change has been in the works for years, but the final push to move from a department in the College of Arts & Sciences to an independent college started about two years ago. The final transition work took place this past spring semester, and the new college officially started this month.
"The change to the college structure will help us to create better quality, and we intend to make what we have better and then out of that comes other opportunities for growth," Dr. Hazelbaker said.
The move won’t add any costs to the university budget, as Dr. Hazelbaker said the college will operate with the same budget it had as a department.
The college will initially consist of the following departments:
The Bachelor of Science in Psychology program, the largest degree-completion program in the college, will be coordinated by Jim Paton.
Provost Dr. William Hackett said the faculty's hard work and initiative were key in the transition process.
"It has been exciting to see the areas of behavioral science grow over these past years to now become its own college," he said. "I attribute this to the tremendous work of the faculty in the disciplines of Social Work, Psychology and Human Services. If it had not been for their hard efforts, this would not have been possible.
"At Southeastern University, our faculty is of the highest quality. We are blessed."
Dr. Hazelbaker said becoming a college and splitting into departments will give students greater access to faculty and more freedom in building their course schedules. Each department chair will be able to make decisions regarding the transfer of courses and other issues that previously had to be handled by Dr. Hazelbaker for all Behavioral and Social Sciences students.
Creating the new college also reflects the growing need for the programs and services that the department had been providing. According to Dr. Hazelbaker, a recent ranking of the top seven professional certificates that workers should pursue for financial and career benefits included two in the fields of behavioral and social sciences: cognitive therapy and music therapy. There is also a growing need for trained therapists and social workers in communities around the country, including Lakeland.
"The need is there, and we’re there to try to supply the resources for that," Dr. Hazelbaker said.
The college currently has 11 full-time faculty, and it offers three undergraduate and three graduate degree programs. There are no immediate plans to add more programs in the future, but Dr. Hazelbaker said that process will be easier whenever the college decides to grow.
"Right now we’re probably as big as we need to be with what we have," he said.