Rochester Institute of Technology today announced plans for a new school of health and nutrition, charged with educating students on the role of nutrition, exercise and behavior modification in promoting healthy lifestyles. The Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition, part of RIT's College of Health Sciences and Technology, will be launched with a $6 million gift from The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation.
"We are greatly appreciative for The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation's gift, and their support for RIT's vision for this school," said RIT President Bill Destler. "Through its educational and research programs, the Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition will have tremendous potential for changing the current health climate throughout the entire country."
The current health climate has many experts sounding the alarm. People are living longer but in chronic poor health, with high rates of obesity, diabetes, damaging cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Inactivity and poor eating choices are often at the root, and the economic ramifications of poor health can be steep.
"The Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition will focus and extend the college's strengths and potential," said Dr. Daniel Ornt, RIT dean of the College of Health Sciences and Technology and vice president of the Institute of Health Sciences and Technology. "The research findings our students and faculty produce stand to a have real impact in addressing a national health issue, while giving our students a professional edge."
The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation, headquartered in Rochester, has a history of supporting community programs in the areas of education, health and wellness, and workforce development.
"RIT has a track record of thought leadership in our community, along with a proven ability to apply scientific concepts in a practical way," said Danny Wegman, The Foundation's president and chairman of the board. "We are confident the new school will similarly help further the field of health and nutrition through practical solutions to health challenges."
The Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition will add new degree programs and will research and address critical health issues, such as high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, high cholesterol, and the host of problems associated with obesity.
What will make the school unique, RIT leaders said, will be:
- A structure that is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary, bringing together the best of the university's technological, creative and humanities disciplines to develop effective programs.
- A focus that prioritizes the pursuit of new knowledge through highly applied research initiatives.
- A commitment to producing graduates who are well prepared to provide leadership in health and wellness.
- A connection to industry that will ensure the school is addressing the greatest priorities, whether program development, workforce development or new knowledge, to drive productivity and profitability.
The new school launches immediately with nearly 100 undergraduates already enrolled in a pre-existing minor in exercise management and a BS in nutrition management, the latter of which has 410 alumni. It will join the college's five other programs, which include biomedical sciences, diagnostic medical sonography, medical illustration, physician assistant, health system administration, as well as the MFA program in medical illustration.
Contingent upon state approval, the Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition will add a master's degree in health and wellness, a bachelor's in exercise science and a doctoral program in applied nutrition.
The master's program in health and wellness will focus on teaching students to integrate wellness into primary medical care and health-enhancement programs designed for corporate or community-based initiatives. Students will integrate data from the fitness laboratory in the exercise science program into their projects and explore cultural impacts of health and wellness, and related political implications.
Graduate students pursuing their Ph.D. in applied nutrition will advance knowledge in a research-driven environment. The program will produce graduates with the knowledge to fill high-level clinical positions in the healthcare industry or to teach in higher education.
A proposal for a second master's in psychology of health and wellness will follow with a focus on behavior modification for optimum health.
The College of Health Sciences and Technology, with 530 undergraduate and graduate students, was established in 2011 as part of the larger Institute of Health Sciences and Technology to educate the next generation of health care professionals, cultivate innovative research and address community health needs. The institute is a partnership between RIT and Rochester General Health System. It is part of an alliance created in 2008 to broaden educational opportunities for RIT students and develop a collaborative environment for exploring technological solutions in health care delivery.
The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation (The Foundation), a charity headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., was created by Robert Wegman in 1991 and is funded by assets from his estate. The Foundation's areas of focus are health care, education, workforce development and United Way. The Foundation does not accept grant applications.