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Department Merger Offers Increased Opportunities for Dietetics, Wellness Students

Department Merger Offers Increased Opportunities for Dietetics, Wellness Students

Posted: July 24, 2015

The newly formed Health, Nutrition, and Dietetics Department will open its doors in fall 2015 with Carol DeNysschen, associate professor, serving as chair. Health, Nutrition, and Dietetics was formed by the merger of the Dietetics and Nutrition Department and the Health and Wellness Department.

“This will strengthen all the programs we offer,” said DeNysschen, “and it will open more doors for students.” The programs are the dietitian education program, the didactic program in nutrition and dietetics, and the health and wellness program, all of which offer a bachelor’s degree. A minor in exercise science is also available.

The merger has been under consideration for some time. Scott Roberts, professor and former chair of health and wellness, said, “The programs will maintain their separate identities while offering students more flexibility.”

Suk Oh, professor and former chair of the dietetics and nutrition program, agreed, adding that the merger offers students expanded opportunities for applied research in health promotion through healthy eating, physical activities, and proper weight management.

DeNysschen, too, is excited about increased research and hands-on learning experiences for students, citing increased involvement with Buffalo State’s Institute for Community Health Promotions (ICHP). ICHP is heavily involved with public health initiatives in Western New York and especially on Buffalo’s West Side. “We're moving in the direction of preventative care,” she said. “Treating diseases is too late. If we can do more health promotions, we can possibly avoid poor health behaviors. You need to change the culture of the environment and bring options like exercise and fresh produce to neighborhoods.” She also believes that practical experience helps students find work after graduation.

The new department will be housed in the School of Natural and Social Sciences. “Buffalo State is well positioned to meet the needs of the changing healthcare system,” said Oh, “because the college offers sciences such as chemistry, biology, and psychology, as well as applied health sciences.”

Roberts, who has taught at Buffalo State for 30 years, believes that the new department will enable the college to develop programs to meet the needs of Buffalo’s growing medical corridor. “I always hoped to leave the place better than it was when I came in,” he said. “I think this merger moves in that direction.”

DeNysschen, who holds a master's degree in public health, a doctorate in exercise science, and is a registered dietitian, is enthusiastic about the department’s future. “Both students and faculty will have more communication and synergy,” she said. “I feel fortunate to be in this position.”

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