KINGSTON, R.I. –July 11, 2007—University of Rhode Island pharmacy students as well as textiles, fashion merchandising, and design students now have the opportunity to follow University of Rhode Island Professor Alain-Philippe Durand’s advice: The BA in French, Don’t Leave URI Without it. Students in both programs are now able to simultaneously earn degrees in French.
Durand, a popular professor and unofficial French ambassador of the University, promotes the language and its accompanying opportunities for students and colleagues across campus. His efforts are working: French is one of the fastest growing majors –if not the fastest—at URI. There were 30 French majors in 1999, today there are 128, the third largest program in terms of majors in the U.S. Most students double or triple major.
Pharmacy & French
Durand noticed that students pursuing pharmacy were among his best scholars. He also observed that pharmacy was a regional program with a number of students coming to URI from Maine, many with French heritage and conversant in French. However, the six-year pharmacy program had little wiggle room in its curriculum to add another major.
Durand contacted Donald Letendre and Joan Lausier, dean and associate dean of URI College of Pharmacy, who were receptive to internationalizing the pharmacy program. For years an occasional student, usually one from France, would complete a pharmacy student exchange rotation with the University of Rennes, France.
The educators put their heads together to formalize a comprehensive and flexible program to allow students to graduate with both a doctor of pharmacy and a bachelor’s degree in French language studies in six years. “No other institution, that I know of, offers a dual degree in that time frame,” says Durand. Seven pharmacy students are enrolled in the dual degree program.
To qualify for the combination French and pharmacy degrees, students must complete at least two five-week rotations in a French-speaking country and earn 30 credits of French, six of which from 400-level courses. French 101 and 102 do not count among the mandatory 30 credits. It is recommended that students wishing to double major come to URI with four years of high school French and advanced placement credits.
Pharmacy students without a minimum of 12 advanced credits or proficiency in advanced level French may complete a certificate in French and Pharmacy from the College of Pharmacy. Three students are currently certificate candidates.
“We are part of the international community,” says Lausier. “Right now we have an affiliation in Rennes, France, but we hope to build other affiliations in other countries and with other languages.”
Textiles, Fashion Merchandising, and Design & French
France is a world leader in luxury fashion. Students enrolled in the bachelor of science in the textiles, fashion merchandising and design program can earn a bachelor of arts degree in French within the same time frame. Nine students are dual degree candidates.
“It’s been the perfect storm,” reports Linda Welters, professor and chair of URI’s Textile, Fashion Merchandising and Design. “It’s always been possible to earn degrees in both programs, but it’s been a real thrust this year.”
Welters explains that first, Claire Kapstein, a native of France joined the textiles faculty and serves as liaison with French companies. In addition, both Alain-Philippe Durand and Lars Erickson have helped with French connections.
But French isn’t the only language in which textiles students can double major. URI Italian professors Michelangelo LaLuna is helping to establish intern sites in Italy and Catherine Sama, whose research interests in Venetian women writers touch on historical fashion, is helping make those connections.
“We’re very aware of the globalization of fashion,” says Welters, noting that half of the textiles faculty were born outside of the U.S.
“The diversity of the textiles field means a variety of career choices—retail buying, fashion promotion, product development, manufacturing, merchandising, and quality control. Graduates fluent in French or Italian will have increased opportunities to find great careers with international fashion and textile companies,” says Welters.
URI French Professor Alain-Philippe Durand with students at the Eiffel Tower. Photo courtesy Alain-Philippe Durand.