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Illinois Wesleyan University adds new majors in public health, quantitative finance, and professional sales

Students standing in front of Ames Library
Illinois Wesleyan University
The new majors at Illinois Wesleyan are part of the ongoing campuswide effort to appeal to more workforce-oriented families and students.

Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington has added three new majors — public health, quantitative finance, and professional sales — as part of an ongoing campus-wide effort to appeal to more workforce-oriented families and students.

Assistant professor David Remmert said over a recent 20-year period, the number of public health workers with undergraduate degrees rose by more than 1,100%. Remmert said the pandemic highlighted the need for more public health professionals. COVID-19 also resulted in an exodus from the field as workers burned out or retired, increasing the number of vacancies.

The introduction of the public health major within the new School of Public Health had been on hold for some time, according to the university, until issues in its nursing program that threatened accreditation were addressed. Graduates have in recent years not done as well as required in the national nurse licensing examinations.

The quantitative finance major mixes math, data science, finance theory, and application. The university said the cross-department program can lead to several careers in research, modeling, risk management, or trading. Quantitative finance can prepare graduates to be traders, analysts, and risk managers.

Assistant professor of finance Mikhail Munenzon said quantitative finance is a relatively new and rapidly growing focus in the field of finance.

“The field requires not just a deep grasp of finance theory and application, but also a solid understanding of mathematics and data science techniques,” said Munenzon.

IWU said a sales degree addresses expected rising demand in that job sector, too.

“Our program is unique in that it both requires and further develops skills that are hallmarks of the rigorous liberal arts education provided by Illinois Wesleyan University, including both oral and written communications, critical thinking, and teamwork,” said David Wallace, associate professor of business and marketing.

Illinois Wesleyan already offers more than 80 majors, minors, and concentrations of study.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.