College of Arts and Sciences In Action Blog | University of Portland

College of Arts and Sciences In Action Blog

College of Arts and Sciences In Action Stories

An instructor helps a group of seniors with a fitness class

New Minor in Exercise Science

With over 600 students in the College of Arts and Sciences planning a future career in the health professions, it is clear that the College must meet the growing student interest in health sciences. The new minor in Exercise Science directly addresses that need. Director of the minor program and Professor of Biology, Dr. Terry Favero, says, “The new exercise science minor fills in a curricular gap between integrative health and wellness and our pre-health sciences program. Moreover, it meets the needs of our growing young population that realize the importance and value in exercise and movement in human well-being.” Numerous studies have shown that regular physical activity improves mental and physical health, reducing the risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, many types of cancer, depression, anxiety, and dementia, among other health conditions. Now students can study the scientific connection between exercise and good health across a lifetime.  


The Exercise Science minor comprises 15 credit hours: BIO 305/365 and 306/366 Human Anatomy I and II and their associate labs; BIO 418 Biology of Exercise or EXS 491 Kinesiology and Functional Anatomy; one elective course; and one 1-credit capstone experience. The capstone is designed to be a high-impact practice in the form of a project or internship, giving students the opportunity to apply their knowledge of exercise science in a hands-on experience. The program is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences but will collaborate with the School of Nursing and Health Innovations. It is expected to be of appeal to students in both schools, as well as student athletes across the University. The creation of this minor makes UP competitive with our peer institutions who are also responding to students’ increased interest in the health professions.  


As Dr. Favero explains, “Exercise science isn’t just about lifting weights, it’s about helping people overcome their barriers to change, prevent injury, manage stress, reduce risk of disease and overall, live longer, happier lives, leading to stronger and healthier communities.” In line with our Holy Cross mission to educate the whole student and the University’s commitment to supporting the needs of our community, the Exercise Science minor will help prepare students for careers as health professionals. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, such careers are expected to grow faster than the average of all occupations combined between 2021 and 2031 (see  


New Minor in Medical Spanish

The Department of International Languages and Cultures is meeting our students’ rising interest in pre-health and our nation’s need for multilingual health care workers. The new minor in Medical Spanish is designed for students in the departments of Biology, Chemistry, and Social Work and the School of Nursing and Health Innovations, to prepare them to safely treat Spanish-speaking patients without the help of an interpreter. In addition to strengthening students’ Spanish-language proficiency and providing them with specialized medical vocabulary, the program also develops intercultural competency on health and social issues of the Latinx population. Dr. Lora Looney, co-director of the program, says, “I am most jazzed about developing a new Spanish course for the minor, Biopolitics of Hispanic Art, Cinema, and Fiction, to be offered Fall 2024.” 


The Medical Spanish minor comprises 12 credit hours, including SPN 301 and 302, or, for heritage speakers of Spanish, SPN 308.  Additional courses include SPN 380 Medical and Public Health Spanish and a capstone course SPN 480: Introduction to Medical Interpretation. Students in SPN 480 will take the Qualified Bilingual Staff Assessment exam, to assess their proficiency in medical Spanish. Participants in the minor also have the option to take a course over the summer that will prepare them for the National Medical Interpretation Exam, which certifies their ability to work as a medical interpreter.  


There are 34.5 million residents of the United States who speak Spanish at home, and approximately 47% of them have limited English-language proficiency, which creates barriers in accessing and receiving high-quality medical care. Professor Katya Hall, co-director of the program, says, “If you want to make a difference in the lives of the patients who only speak Spanish by connecting with them in their language, give the Medical Spanish Minor (MSM) at UP a try. The MSM is a great option for anyone who will be working in community health or with the underserved Spanish-speaking-only patient population in the United States.”  


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Record Numbers for Summer Undergraduate Research Participation 

The Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program saw record participation in summer 2023. Twenty-seven faculty worked with sixty-three College of Arts and Sciences students on research projects in disciplines as varied as Theology, Biology, Ethnic Studies, and Mathematics. The Humanities were especially strongly represented this year.  


The College recognizes undergraduate research as a high-impact practice that prepares students for finding meaningful work after graduation. For their work this summer, student researchers received a stipend and free campus housing during the research weeks. In addition to working on their research projects, all SURE participants were encouraged to attend weekly “BrainFood” events. Open to students from the College, the Shiley School of Engineering, and the Provost’s Initiative for Undergraduate Research, these were opportunities for students to have interdisciplinary conversations and learn from faculty speakers. Over 185 students and faculty participated in seven weeks of “BrainFood” programming, which was organized and funded by the College of Arts and Sciences.  


SURE director Dr. Jacquie Van Hoomissen is thrilled with the high numbers of participants in undergraduate research in this record year and hopes for such enthusiastic participation in summer 2024. Faculty proposals for next year will be due by the end of this fall semester. All full-time CAS faculty are eligible to apply for SURE stipends, and more information, including the timeline, can be found in the Pilots Portal in the “College of Arts and Sciences” drop-down menu, under “Faculty Development.”