Saint Martin’s University adds two new degree programs and a new minor for the 2014-2015 academic year

July 17, 2014

Saint Martin’s University will begin the 2014-2015 academic year with two new programs leading to a bachelor of arts degree, the first in communication studies and the second in educational studies. The University also will offer a new minor in social justice this fall.

The programs, approved by the University’s Board of Trustees and the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities, bring the number of majors offered by the University to 25.

Associate Professor of Communication Irina Gendelman, Ph.D., who is the director of the communication studies program, describes the major as an interdisciplinary program in which students will study the central role of communication in society by using critical and cultural studies to understand it. The major will provide an overview of various areas of communication. It also will examine self-reflective citizen engagement and creation of communication media, she says.

“Our program focuses on social justice and critical cultural theory, developing critical thinkers who are also engaged citizens,” Gendelman says. “It is a perfect fit for students with diverse talents and interests. With our area’s rich cultural environment, governmental backdrop and deep traditions of activism and originality, the program will be an excellent fit.”

She says the major will prepare students for careers in a variety of fields, from those focused on production – such as public relations and advertising – to more theoretically oriented fields. Students also can use the degree as a springboard to graduate studies in several fields.

Joyce Westgard, Ph.D., dean of the College of Education and Counseling Psychology, says the University’s new educational studies program is designed to teach individuals the best teaching practices to support learning and how to administer learning programs. While it does not lead to teacher certification, it provides students with the in-depth knowledge and skills necessary to become effective teachers in those non-school careers in which teaching is an important element.

Belinda Hill, Ph.D., who chairs the School’s department of educational foundations and will be directing the new program, says, “While students majoring in the new program are gaining solid skills in the broader field of education they develop a specific focus area to meet their career goals from one of five areas offered. For instance, a student interested in a career with a cultural component might choose foundation studies in education and culture, a focus that would prepare him or her to work with international students, immigrant services, teaching English abroad or teaching English as a Second Language.”

Other focus areas offered are early childhood education, community education, health and fitness, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

Saint Martin’s new social justice minor explores the complex nature of social justice and alternative venues that foster justice, says the program’s originator, Robert Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D., professor of criminal justice and legal studies.

The new interdisciplinary minor, which complements a major in fields such as political science, criminal justice or sociology, focuses on non-legal forms of justice in society and the corresponding societal settings for injustice. It will offer many innovative courses, including a course in Genocide Studies being taught for the first time this fall.

“I teach criminal justice and legal studies, which are the official systems for justice in the United States and for most other countries,” he says. “One learns the outcomes from those systems are not always just. There are students who are looking for alternate routes that foster justice, who are committed to justice but do not see themselves working within either the criminal justice or legal systems.”

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,400 under-graduate students and 350 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extended campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

For additional information:

Irina Gendelman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Communication
Instructional Designer

Joyce Westgard, Ph.D.
Associate V.P. of Institutional Effectiveness
Dean, Counseling Psychology

Robert Hauhart
Professor, Criminal Justice/Legal Studies
Pre-law advisor

Genevieve Canceko Chan
Vice President, Office of Marketing and Communications