UT Health Science Center, TAMIU
Ink Joint Nutrition, Dietetics Program
LAREDO ― Obesity among U.S. adults has doubled in the past 30 years to 30 percent and is even higher―36 percent―in Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In an effort to help reverse this unhealthy trend, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC) and Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) signed an agreement Oct. 10, 2007 to offer a joint bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics.
U.T Health Science Center president Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., and TAMIU president Ray Keck, Ph.D., signed the agreement at the U.T. Health Science Center’s new Academic Building, Laredo Campus Extension, located at 1937 Bustamante Street.
“This is a major health issue, especially in South Texas,” said Dr. Cigarroa, “Our joint program with TAMIU is a great example of educational institutions working together for the good of the community. It will provide educational opportunities in a growing career field and good nutritional guidance for South Texans.”
“The joint Bachelor of Science program in Nutrition and Dietetics is especially relevant here in Laredo,” said Dan Jones, Ph.D., TAMIU provost, “Sadly, our service area can trace many chronic health problems to poor diet, including increased incidences of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Students completing this undergraduate program, and a planned Master of Science Degree in Nutrition Sciences, will provide the service and research expertise to help our community address these problems in a pro-active and culturally sensitive manner. We are very much looking forward to welcoming students to this joint program in fall of 2008,” Dr. Jones said.
“What is different about this program is that it is a true collaboration between two different universities in two different systems,” said Dennis Blessing, Ph.D., associate dean for South Texas programs in the School of Allied Health Sciences at the U.T. Health Science Center, “Graduates from this program will have a diploma with both schools’ names on it.”
Students must meet certain prerequisites before acceptance into the program. Laredo students can earn their credits close to home at TAMIU, while students entering the program through the U.T. Health Center’s main campus in San Antonio can earn them from any university.
Classes in Laredo will be taught on the TAMIU campus by Carmen Roman-Shriver, Ph.D., R.D., and her husband, Associate Professor Brent Shriver, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist. The couple is already living in Laredo and working to develop the program. Additional faculty will be added in the coming year and as the program matures.
Roman-Shriver, director of the Nutrition and Dietetics Program, has more than 25 years of teaching experience and is an active member of several state and national dietetic and nutrition organizations. She also is a member of the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Obesity Task Force and has been a reviewer for the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
The demand is high for nutritionists and dietitians for such employers as hospitals, clinics, schools and the food industry.
“With a more sedentary lifestyle and more fast food available than there was 30 years ago, people need guidance on proper portion size, what is good for them to eat and the importance of regular exercise,” Roman-Shriver said, “The dietitians and nutritionists coming through our program are the ones who will turn this dangerous health trend around by helping people learn how to live healthier lives.” -- This story by Rosanne Fohn, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
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