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President's Corner

A bi-weekly column from the Office of the President

Fast or Slow Depends on Your Perspective

Apr. 13, 2004 3:32 PM
Here is another sneak preview to prepare you for news we hope to see soon. We were hoping to see similar news back in June, 2003 when I wrote this:

“My crystal ball was cloudy. I thought we would make news last week with a State Board of Higher Education decision related to VCSU. The Board ... did not decide whether VCSU, Dickinson State, and Mayville State may offer a limited number of graduate courses (not programs or degrees) for teachers and school librarians. Instead, that motion was tabled until September.

“We want graduate credit authority because our teaching alumni in the region and would-be school librarians across the state want to continue their education at VCSU. They already have bachelor’s degrees. They need continuing education on a regular basis and especially now as a new federal requirement (No Child Left Behind) is taking effect....

“Our second major reason for wanting graduate credit is that we have a new world-class degree program in technology education that has a potential national market at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

Back in 2002, we had made the same request, based in part on our Success II consultant study that led to the restoration of the presidency at VCSU. The graduate credit request became part of another Board consultant study that recommended against us, but the Board did not act then, pro or con. Last September, the Board formed a task force to study the matter further. The task force meets again this week.

The task force will receive another graduate credit request from VCSU this week. This time, we are asking for a full masters degree in education, with concentrations in technology education, information technology, elementary, and secondary. This time, we have backing from local economic development officials, who have prepared a business plan showing that the program can be a highly profitable growth business for the community and the university.

The proposal does not call for any additional state funding. It fulfills higher education Roundtable priorities that call for entrepreneurship, risk-taking, partnerships, economic growth, meeting identifiable needs in the market, and educational excellence. Any “profit” it generates will help offset the erosion of state funding and keep tuition increases manageable, while also addressing significant campus needs.

Nevertheless, the Board may not approve. Other baccalaureate campuses want graduate credit, too. We support them, but many other campuses in the university system do not support anything along these lines. Some may think we cannot achieve quality at the graduate level. Given a chance, we will prove them wrong, and our accrediting agency will verify that.

If the Board does not approve very soon, our window of greatest opportunity in the marketplace will pass. A positive vote from the task force this week is the first step. Then we need approval from the Board to develop the final plan. This will involve creating an organizational structure, policies, academic standards, and other elements of a graduate program; developing some online courses to fill out the degree; working with our accrediting agency to fulfill their requirements, and ultimately gaining final approval from both the Board and the accrediting agency. Our earliest start date would be summer of 2005. We’ll keep you posted.
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