Bioengineering major cut from CLU academics

Unable to maintain the technological advancement taking place in the field, California Lutheran University will no longer offer bioengineering as a major for students.

After a program evaluation in 2011, CLU officials, along with an external evaluator, decided the bioengineering program would require a substantial facelift to keep up with the rapidly changing field.

According to Joan Griffin, dean of the college of arts and sciences at CLU, the advancements in technology that the field of bioengineering has undergone, and will continue to undergo, are too much to handle at this point in time.

“When we started the program in 2002, bioengineering was still a relatively new field,” Griffin said. “Like anything that’s technological in nature, it’s been really rapidly evolving. It’s going to continue to evolve.”

Attempting to keep pace with the evolution of bioengineering would mean that CLU would have to significantly increase its spending on faculty and resources.

“We realized that students in the major would need to take a considerable number of new classes to keep up with others in bioengineering,” Griffin said. “We probably would have needed ten times as many bioengineering classes. To support those classes we would need more faculty, more specialized faculty and more specialized laboratories. This is a major that needs to be in an engineering school and CLU is a liberal arts college.”

Students who have already committed to a bioengineering major will be permitted to finish their degrees, but the major is no longer available to incoming students.

According to Griffin, current bioengineering students still have a great opportunity to continue their careers in the field. Griffin is proud of the current bioengineering program and said that bioengineering students from CLU have gone on to prestigious graduate schools to further study the field of bioengineering.

“We’re proud of the program, the students, the faculty and what they’ve done,” Griffin said. “We’ve had students go on to bioengineering graduate programs at UCLA, UC Riverside and Carnegie Mellon. Bioengineering students from CLU have gone to work in a variety of fields; from computer science to horticultural affairs.”

CLU will continue to offer courses in chemistry, exercise science, mathematics and computer science. According to Griffin, a strong background in math and science gives students an opportunity to study the field of bioengineering in the future, if they choose.

“We still believe that we can prepare students for engineering programs,” Griffin said. “Students with a background in the sciences, and a major in biochemistry, biology or chemistry can succeed in engineering. Stanford, along with other universities, will accept graduate students to their bioengineering and other engineering programs, even if they don’t have the major.”

Aisling Byrnes, a bioengineering student at CLU, has had a positive experience with the major. She has noticed, however, that students at larger universities have access to resources that CLU students do not.

“While we do have some resources here, we are lacking quite a few that I believe would be helpful in aiding the research and learning process as a bioengineering major,” Byrnes said. “I have a few friends who are bioengineering, as well as chemical engineering majors at other, larger universities, and I have noticed over the last couple years that many of their research and projects involve a lot more resources than we have here at CLU.”


Keith Sparks
Staff Writer
Published December 11. 2013