Unity College transforms its academic model

America’s Environmental College organizes into two schools, adds graduate degree

UNITY, Maine — Fresh off its 50th anniversary, two consecutive years of record enrollment, and the unveiling of its first-ever graduate degree, Unity College announced it is re-imagining its undergraduate academic structure to provide easier pathways for students to succeed.

The School of Environmental Citizenship and the School of Biodiversity Conservation replace five “centers” as the academic organizational paradigm at the four-year liberal arts campus, where undergraduates choose from 16 environmentally focused majors.

The reorganization simplifies the academic structure at a time when America’s Environmental College is growing its enrollment and re-focusing all of its academic offerings as it becomes a national brand under President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury.

“The new structure is designed to create the space necessary for faculty to rethink the way higher education is delivered to maximize benefit for students,” Khoury said. “This realignment will better match our educational framework of sustainability science. No majors or courses of study were eliminated, and we have even added four new faculty members in key positions.

“This is a change not just in names or titles, but in philosophy,” Khoury said. “The schools are named for areas of academic inquiry where we’ll see the greatest need and growth as our students become environmental professionals and Unity alumni.”

Khoury, who served as Unity’s executive vice president and as the chief academic officer before assuming the presidency in January, said the advent of a “school” model is one of several major overhauls implemented to bolster student success at Unity College. “We want to create a living and learning community for the next 50 years,” he said.

Within the past six months, the school has invested $6 million to build two new student support buildings, to be opened in August; repurposed its two signature campus buildings to serve as academic and student support facilities; hired four new full-time faculty; and rolled out its M.S. of Professional Science degree, the first-ever graduate degree at Unity College and the first time America’s Environmental College has ever offered its unique brand of sustainability science curriculum online.

Khoury said he expects to post the college’s third straight year of record enrollment when the 2016-17 academic year begins in August, beating last year’s record, when the school enrolled approximately 640 full-time students.

Effective July 1, Dr. Erika Latty will serve as Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship; Dr. Pamela MacRae will assume the role of Dean of the School of Biodiversity Conservation.

Latty and MacRae “are both well-respected faculty who personify excellent leadership, understand the mission of a truly transdisciplinary environmental education, and have earned the trust and respect of colleagues and students alike,” Khoury said. “We are fortunate to be able to raise this kind of leadership from within our ranks, and are confident they will excel in helping Unity College continue to lead in the environmental century.”

Latty, a Professor of Botany, is a forest ecologist who specializes in the effects of introduced tree disease on forest structure. She holds a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University and a BA in Biology from Harvard University. She also has been a center director and led several faculty committees.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to serve the college mission to prepare 21st-century environmental leaders in my new capacity as an academic dean,” Latty said.

MacRae, an Associate Professor of Sustainable Fisheries Management, has led faculty academic committees and is an ecologist whose research explores links between fish and their environments. MacRae holds a PhD in Oceanography and Coastal Sciences from Louisiana State University, an MS in Zoology from the University of Toronto, and a BS with Honors Certificate in Biology from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“I am excited for this opportunity to lead faculty in the School of Biodiversity Conservation in their pursuit of teaching, service, scholarship, and mentoring the exceptional students of Unity College,” MacRae said.

Both schools are listed here with their respective majors:

Unity College School of Environmental Citizenship

  • Environmental Policy, Law and Society
  • Environmental Writing and Media Studies
  • Art and Environment
  • Secondary Education
  • Adventure Therapy
  • Adventure-Based Environmental Education
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Sustainable Energy Management
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Parks and Forest Resources

Unity College School of Biodiversity Conservation

  • Biology
  • Marine Biology
  • Wildlife Biology
  • Wildlife/Fisheries Management
  • Conservation Law Enforcement
  • Captive Wildlife Care and Education

About Unity College

The first institution of higher education in the nation to divest from fossil fuel investments, Unity College is committed to educating the next generation of environmental professionals. Sustainability science lies at the heart of its educational mission, with 16 environmentally focused undergraduate majors and an M.S. of Professional Science degree offered online. For more information, visit unity.edu.

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