What started as firestorm ended with a whimper Friday when the Utah Board of Regents approved the new Utah Valley State College bachelor's degree in integrated studies.

The school next fall will offer the new baccalaureate degree, which combines the sciences, social sciences, humanities, health, arts, business, technology and trades. Utah State University proposes a similar degree."It's a big step. It opens up another four-year program to students who are more interested in the general-studies approach," said UVSC President Kerry Romesburg. "It really sends a strong message to the citizens of Utah County that the regents have listened to their concerns and are willing to respond."

Last October, the Orem college's proposal sparked a six-month debate over the mission and rapid growth of the 15,000-student school.

Some regents voiced concern that services would be duplicated within the higher education system and that UVSC was stepping outside its original mission of vocational training and general education courses.

In the end, regents approved the new degree with little debate, likely because the school had answered regents' questions over the past few months, Romesburg said.

Juniors entering the degree program will be assigned an adviser and committee of two faculty mem-bers from diverse backgrounds. The committee will help students plan their final two years of study.

The degree requires 124 credit hours, including general education requirements. Students must complete 60 credit hours in the program; 40 hours must be upper division courses.

Regent Aileen Clyde cautioned against overselling a degree so broad in nature, taking exception to the claim that students graduating from the program would "master" basic intellectual competencies required of educated people. She suggested the word "develop" might be more appropriate.