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UT System Board of Regents green-lights master's degrees in biomedical engineering, deaf education and hearing science

The University of Texas System Board of Regents, meeting May 9 in Austin, endorsed two new graduate-level programs to be offered by The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC) and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). The program proposals will be submitted to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for final approval.

The programs are a joint master of science degree and doctor of philosophy degree in biomedical engineering, and a master's degree in deaf education and hearing science. The Regents also granted UTHSC's request for planning authority to develop master's- and doctoral-level sports sciences programs in collaboration with UTSA and UT Austin.

C. Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D., associate professor of orthopaedics at the Health Science Center and founding director of UTHSC's Center for Clinical Bioengineering, and Cheryl B. Schrader, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical engineering and associate dean for graduate studies and research for UTSA's College of Engineering, coordinated the biomedical engineering proposal that was jointly developed by a committee of faculty from both institutions. "Once the program is in place, it will be a big plus not just for the two institutions but also for the city of San Antonio, because the biomedical engineering program — the only such program in South Texas — is likely to generate technology that can be licensed to industry and spark the growth of the biotech industry in the city," Dr. Agrawal said.

The San Antonio Technology Accelerator Initiative, funded by the city, is spearheading efforts to jump-start the biotechnology industry in San Antonio. "Biomedical companies in the city will need skilled candidates for jobs that are generated and the new program can play a significant role in filling that need," Dr. Agrawal said.

The master's degree program in deaf education and hearing science is an outgrowth of existing services offered through the Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children. "This action of the Board of Regents, which precedes action by the Coordinating Board, expands the Health Science Center's contribution to total health and wellness for the deaf community," said Marilyn S. Harrington, Ph.D., dean of UTHSC's School of Allied Health Sciences. "It recognizes recent changes surrounding deafness and being hearing impaired, not the least of which are physical interventions that have the potential to reduce hearing impairment."

The degree program will help the Health Science Center to enter a partnership with UTSA for a doctoral program in communication science and disorders, she said. Guy H. Bailey, Ph.D., UTSA provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. Harrington are working together to create the doctoral program.

Debra Perrett, Ph.D., of Sunshine Cottage, is the master's degree program director.

Contact: Will Sansom or Aileen Salinas