Above: Provost Suzanne Austin, with President Andrew T. Hsu, Dr. Zoher Kapasi and David Ginn, discusses the formation of a new School of Health Sciences during a press conference on Jan. 27, 2022. (Photos by Heather Moran)

The College of Charleston Board of Trustees voted on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, to approve the formation of the School of Health Sciences in order to meet the high demand for qualified health care workers in the Lowcountry, the state and the nation.

“With the establishment of the School of Health Sciences, the College of Charleston will prepare our students to be health care leaders throughout our communities,” said College of Charleston Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Suzanne Austin during a press conference to formally announce the new school. “Working with our community and health care partners, the College will offer programs that take advantage of our current expertise in public health, exercise science and lifetime physical activity to attract the next generation of scholars.”

cofc president Andrew Hsu

CofC President Andrew T. Hsu speaks about the new School of Health Sciences.

According to a report from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in health care occupations is projected to grow 15% between 2019 and 2029. This job growth is anticipated across all categories of health care including health care administration/management, health informatics and other areas of health care support.

“The College of Charleston is primed to have one of the top undergraduate health sciences programs in the country,” said College of Charleston President Andrew T. Hsu. “By creating a stand-alone school, the College will better meet student demand and also the region’s needs. I am excited to see this academic program continue to grow and evolve in service to our students and the greater community.”

Austin said the School of Health Sciences will significantly increase opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

“The College already has a strong relationship with MUSC, including research collaborations involving our students and faculty,” she said. “We expect the School of Health Sciences to provide a platform for even more partnerships in the future.”

Zoher Kapasi

Dr. Zoher Kapasi talks about how the new school will be an asset to supporting the health care workforce in South Carolina.

Dr. Zoher Kapasi, dean of the College of Health Professions at the Medical University of South Carolina, says CofC’s School of Heath Sciences is an important addition to the region.

“We welcome the development of the new School of Health Sciences at the College of Charleston,” said Kapasi. “It will further provide a vital pipeline to develop the health care workforce in South Carolina and beyond.”

Mary Lightsey, a College of Charleston senior majoring in public health, recently started working in the Charleston health care system. She thinks this new school will help to fill an important need.

“Having people come from the community to work in the community is going to have an amazing impact on the health care services in Charleston,” Lightsey said. “I think it is a great opportunity for the students.”

According to a recent report, health sciences jobs are the third-fastest growing job sector in the Charleston region and is projected to add nearly 3,200 new jobs from by 2024.

“Health care and life sciences are key economic drivers for our region’s economy,” says Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) President and CEO David Ginn. “The demand for skilled a workforce in this field is real and directly impacts our region’s ability to compete globally to attract the world’s best companies and talent. CRDA is proud to support the College of Charleston’s new School of Health Sciences. It will help address critical health care workforce needs and offer a strategic pipeline to existing MUSC programs.”

The School of Health Sciences will be located in the Silcox Physical Education Center on George Street, where the Department of Health and Human Performance is currently housed.

Austin said an internal search for an interim dean of the new school will commence soon.