Marylhurst students will complete nutrition graduate program at OHSU

 healthy food in heart dishes

Sept. 4, 2018

During her morning commute, Diane Stadler, Ph.D., R.D.N., L.D., associate professor of medicine and director of the Graduate Programs in Human Nutrition, OHSU School of Medicine, heard an OPB story about the decision to close Marylhurst University. She had followed the development of their graduate program in Food Systems & Society with interest for years. By the time she reached her office, she'd made up her mind to see what she could do to save the program.

Diane StadlerDr. Stadler, also the associate director of nutrition for the OHSU Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition & Wellness, immediately saw the alignment with current nutrition work at OHSU and thought the program could fit within the graduate programs she led. She made a few calls and set in motion the process for OHSU to step in and help Marylhurst meet its commitment to its students.

The result is a memorandum of understanding for a teach-out agreement with OHSU to give Marylhurst students in the Food Systems & Society program the opportunity to complete their Master of Science degrees. This applies to all current students in the program as well as those admitted to start the 2018-19 academic year. The program generally enrolls 10 to 12 students each year and the majority of those are expected to transfer to OHSU. Two Marylhurst faculty members, Sean Gillon, Ph.D., and Patricia Allen, Ph.D., will join OHSU as associate professors and co-directors of the program, which will be housed within the Graduate Programs in Human Nutrition in the OHSU School of Medicine.

The program encourages students to identify societal factors that impact food system equity and develop critical thinking skills on how to engage with social change to the food system. It is a hybrid, asynchronous program where students do much of their work online, but meet on campus twice a year for intensive work sessions. Since it is a unique program, it draws students from well beyond the Portland area.

"I just felt like the content and context within which they bring together the issues of food accessibility, food equity and policy were a great fit for current OHSU students," said Dr. Stadler. She said OHSU students were already expressing interest in topics of food insecurity and food accessibility and that this fit nicely with other nutrition education curricula.

OHSU is an international leader in research illustrating the role nutrition plays in establishing chronic disease risk during the first 1,000 days, or from conception to about age two. Over the past several years, Dr. Stadler, among others, has been instrumental in incorporating this work into students' curriculum. It is one of the threads woven throughout the first 18 months of the YOUR M.D. curriculum, and part of two new electives: an interprofessional culinary medicine elective and a culinary medicine enrichment week class for medical students. The Moore Institute is also close to completing a continuing education module utilizing the same research.

For Dr. Stadler, bringing the program within OHSU has been affirming. "It's renewed my faith in OHSU, seeing so many groups pull together in such a short timeframe to help a fellow institution and ensure students can continue with their studies," she said.