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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU environmental health option receives national accreditation

New Mexico State University's environmental health option for students majoring in environmental science has been accredited by the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council.

ironmental science major is a collaborative effort of the departments of plant and environmental sciences in the College of Agriculture and Home Economics, and health science in the College of Health and Social Services.

This is the first accredited program in the region covering Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas, said Stephen Arnold, a professor of health science and coordinator of the environmental health option.

He said the accreditation will help graduating students enter some sectors of the job market, such as the U.S. Public Health Service.

"You're not even eligible for their environmental health slots unless you graduated from an accredited degree program," Arnold said, adding that many major employers in the Southwest consistently say they have trouble finding qualified, degreed people to fill their environmental health or environmental science slots.

"The program accreditation has strong support from Indian Health Service, because they need accredited people in their program," said William Lindemann, professor of plant and environmental sciences and the environmental science program coordinator.

In 1994, the College of Agriculture and Home Economics started its environmental science program. Six years later, Arnold started an environmental and occupational health degree program in the College of Health and Social Services. While Lindemann's program focused on soils, chemistry, biology, and other scientific disciplines, Arnold's program centered on the human component of environmental health.

Neither program by itself was eligible for accreditation, so Arnold adhered to the philosophy of "strength in numbers," closing his program and offering it as an environmental health option under Lindemann's program.

"This shows that colleges can work together to accomplish something for the good of students and for the good of the overall university," Lindemann said.

Arnold agreed, adding that maximizing and sharing resources across campus benefits the students and the university by strengthening both.

Bob Nosbisch
Aug. 30, 2006