Berry adds sports leadership and data analytics majors

Heath Hutcheson, Campus Carrier staff writer

Thea Monroe White teaches a section of a
Data Analytics class. Alyssa Elmore | Campus Carrier

As Berry continues to grow as a school, the addition of new major programs overtime has been a major part of that growth. Two recently added majors, Sports Leadership and Strategy and Data Analytics are expected to soon grow into some very successful new pathways for the students who pursue them at Berry.

The Director of Sports Leadership and Strategy, Kevin Rensler provided some insight into the details regarding the new program.

“In August of 2022, I was asked to lead the sports administration program, and what I did early on in the fall term was assess where the program was and where it needed to be to position students for careers, not jobs, but careers once they left or graduated from Berry,” Rensler said. “The most important thing was making sure it was in the best interest of the students.”

Rensler clarified that rather than being a wholly new program created from the ground up, Sports Leadership and Strategy is really just a more refined version of the Sports Administration program.

“We looked at what the students needed and what was missing from the curriculum. Based on that information that we had, we revised the program,” Rensler said. “Before, it felt like students were just taking classes and checking boxes and there wasn’t really a purpose or intention to their progression of classes, and now there’s a purpose.”

According to Rensler, the purpose of this revision was in large part to provide more opportunities for the students as they come out of Berry, so that they’re not limited in their options for careers.

“The curriculum now gives you the flexibility to choose your own path instead of having just one,” Rensler said. “Now it gives you the flexibility if you want to work for a firm in manufacturing such as Nike, or if you want to work in a firm in communications such as ESPN, you can do that too.”

Rensler expects the program to be a big success due to the growing student interest.

“It’s just been implemented this August, and we’re already seeing major growth, so we’re excited,” Rensler said.

Assistant Professor of Data Analytics, Thea Monroe White also provided some information regarding the new Data Analytics program.

“To meet industry demand, we are recognizing that we are in an age of data, where data and information are shaping our lives whether we like it or not, and so, equipping students with the knowledge and tools to engage with this world requires that we build opportunities for them to train up in these fields,” White said.

For White, a goal for this program is to not only open up new opportunities, but to also allow students with an interest in the field to have a deeper understanding of its core purposes no matter how they may use it.

“For Data analytics, this is about transforming raw data into useful insights for organizations, individuals and leaders to make sound decisions, but it’s also about being data literate,” White said. “So, it required creating courses to meet this growing demand.”

While not quite as brand new as the Sports Leadership and Strategy program, Data Analytics is still in its very early stages, having only been in place for a little over a year.

“The Fall of 2022 was the first time where students could indicate whether they wanted to be a Data Analytics major or minor, so as of now we are currently in year two of the major,” White said. “We’re actually going to have our first two data analytics majors graduate in the spring.”

White believes that Data Analytics as a major or minor will likely provide students with a lot of data utility no matter their interests may be, as the span of the program runs far and wide.

“Analytics can really go with any major so the way that we designed it was to be an excellent standalone major, but also a good second major,” White said.

It also seems that these two programs having sprouted up at around the same time has actually been quite beneficial on both ends.

“Every major sports program, I would say, has an analytics department, so those two are actually tightly coupled,” White said.

“A lot of students who are now in Sports Leadership have identified Data Analytics as a second major, so it’s fortunate that these two programs have been added concurrently,” Rensler said.

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