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  Avila Offers New Majors    
  Kansas City, MO    
August 11, 2009

As college students enjoy their last month of summer, Avila University has been busy with the arrival of new majors, a new concentration, new department and new college.

The expanded Law and Justice Studies department will offer traditional undergraduate degrees in sociology, political science/pre-law, and the new criminology and justice studies.

The criminology and justice studies major at Avila encompasses the scientific study of crime, criminals, the criminal justice system, crime prevention and the treatment of offenders. The program is interdisciplinary, drawing upon several academic disciplines for theoretical and methodological approaches.

Political science has long been a major at Avila, but recently pre-law has combined with political science to strengthen students’ preparation for future careers. This program prepares students for entrance into various areas of the political system, the private sector, law and the international community.

“We are very excited about both our new major and the changes to our continuing majors,” said David Wissmann, Ph.D., chairman of the Law and Justice Studies department. “Many of our students are especially interested in the areas of criminology and pre-law.  With these changes, students will be able to get a college degree in their area of interest and also be able to get a minor in a wide variety of areas, including sociology, psychology and anthropology.”

Avila will also offer a new concentration for biology majors. Students can now major in biology with an environmental emphasis. Biology majors with an environmental science emphasis must complete all of the requirements mandatory for biology majors. In addition, these students are strongly encouraged to pursue opportunities to engage in field biology in semester abroad or summer research programs.

Avila Advantage, the university’s accelerated degree program, also welcomes new majors. New degrees include Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communication, Bachelor of Arts in Entrepreneurial Leadership and Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources.

The Avila Advantage degree in corporate communication will enable students to become a more effective communicator in career fields such as advertising, branding, marketing, mass media, public relations and writing.

With the Bachelor of Arts in entrepreneurial leadership, Avila Advantage will help students develop new products, spot opportunities in the workplace, gain an understanding of leadership qualities of other entrepreneurs, engage in market feasibility analysis and manage and grow a business.

The Bachelor of Arts in human resources brings students the advantage of being able to improve processes, manage and develop people, solve problems and think critically.

“Avila Advantage is pleased to announce three new degrees specifically designed to meet the needs of Kansas City area employers and working professionals,” said Lacey Smith, assistant dean of the School of Professional Studies. “These programs were adopted through insight from market research conducted with area employers who acknowledged the employability and importance of these degree programs. These new degrees will be offered in the same flexible format and adult-friendly environment as our other programs.”

Along with new majors, Avila has combined the College of Humanities and Performing Arts and the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences to form the new College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Charlene Gould, Ph.D., dean of the college, said that the creation of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences allows diverse disciplines to interact in ways that mirror the experience that Avila provides its students.  

“The synergy that is fostered by fusing the many departments into this multidisciplinary college gives students limitless opportunity,” Gould said. “Whether it is providing the foundation of core curriculum, preparing students for professional careers, creating critical thinkers who can succeed in a complex world, or participating in service learning, our integrative and interdisciplinary learning style is active and sets the stage for life-long learning.”  

The new College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences will include anthropology, criminology and justice studies, dance, English, foreign language, history, music, philosophy, political science/pre-law, psychology, social work, sociology and theatre.

“As a University sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph, we have a commitment to respond to the needs of our community and to prepare students for contributions to a global society,” said S. Marie Joan Harris, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “These new programs reflect unique interdisciplinary approaches to community needs.  They are designed to provide multiple perspectives on complex issues, hands-on experience and collaborative learning opportunities.”

For more information about all of Avila University’s degree programs, visit or call 1.800.Go.Avila.


Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.