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GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tusculum College in East Tennessee is adding four health sciences programs and transitioning to a university.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports the school, which is the oldest college in the state, will begin offering doctoral and master’s degrees in optometry, physician’s assistant, occupational therapy and physical therapy. As it makes the changes, Tusculum will restructure its current programs under four colleges, making it a university. Officials have already approved the changes, which are slated to officially take effect on July 1.

Tusculum President James Hurley says the new structure won’t just meet student demand, but it also aims to meet the needs of the Appalachian region and make the school sustainable.

The programs will be based out of the college’s main campus in Greeneville, but will also use satellite campuses in Knoxville and Morristown.

“Over the next 10 years, we’ll be in full assessment and evaluation mode, trying to identify what are the needs of East Tennessee, first and foremost?” Tusculum President James Hurley said. “Then we’ll be expanding out — what are the needs of central Appalachia and what are the needs of the southeastern United States?”

East Tennessee lags in specialty physicians, dentists and mental health providers, according to the Appalachian Regional Commission.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Wendy Wasserman, a spokeswoman for the commission. “These regional-based providers in training, not only are they providing jobs but they’re also fulfilling a specific need in the region.”


Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel,