Apr 10th, 2017 @ 8:32 am | Author: Tisa Mason, Ed.D., CAE
I have not yet had the opportunity to see the movie “Hidden Figures,” but it is high on my list of movies to watch. It is a true story about a group of African-American women hired at the beginnings of NASA for their superior mathematical skills. There are always public figures, or those with the privilege—and honestly, the weight—of being the “face of the institution.” But equally important are those behind the scenes, the hidden figures. The concept of the movie got me thinking about how many people we depend on to make this university, or any organization, truly great.

One of VCSUs many highlights of success this past year was the reaccreditation—with high praise—of the teacher preparation programs at VCSU. The “face” of that recognition is, of course, our excellent faculty relentlessly focused on creating powerful learning experiences that serve our teacher candidates glowingly. Yet behind the accreditation processes were folks like Emma Tufte, Misty Lindgren, and Irene Groth. I asked Dr. Gary Thompson, dean of the School of Education and Graduate Studies, about their contributions to the reaccreditation process:

“Emma Tufte contributed significantly to the School of Education and Graduate Studies (SEGS) successful 2015 NCATE visit. Emma entered substantial amounts of SEGS data while tracking hundreds of teacher candidates who aspired to progress from entry to program admittance to student teaching and ultimately graduation. She contributed to valuable improvements in the Central Assessment System and SEGS preparation of data reports shared with local stakeholders, as well as the SEGS state and national accreditation efforts.

“Misty Lindgren entered substantial amounts of SEGS data while tracking and communicating with graduate school students. Misty’s efforts in the Central Assessment System and her work with students pursuing their master’s degrees were influential in the success of the graduate program in the 2015 state and national accreditation efforts.

“Irene Groth goes over and above the call of duty to help the School of Education and Graduate Studies become a ‘well-oiled machine.’ Irene did an exceptional job in helping to organize all the meals, schedules, motels reservations and every small detail for the last NCATE visit. The team was very pleased with how well everything was organized, and Irene can take credit for that part of the visit. The whole accreditation process involves teamwork, and Irene’s role as organizer was crucial to our success.”

These three “hidden figures” were crucial to the accreditation process. One could say they shined a light on the excellent work of the faculty so that the visiting accrediting team could see the truly magnificent impact our teacher preparation program has in our state and in our nation.

We enjoyed another successful accreditation effort last year as well—VCSU’s athletic training program was granted its initial accreditation for the maximum five-year period. One of the “hidden figures” behind its success is faculty member and program director Rachelle Hunt.

Diane Burr, department chair, indicates that “many people do not realize that each year the VCSU program director must submit an annual report. In this report, the 109 standards are assessed for compliance during the review process. The review process is extensive and requires that the program director report on the major accreditation sections, which include student application and enrollment, faculty program operations, program outcomes, and compliance. The program director must summarize clinical experiences and internships, and preceptor profiles are updated at all clinical sites. After submission, the CAATE Commission reviews the report and either accepts or requests further action in the form of rejoinders that address any irregularities. This process begins each year in July with the report due for submission by Oct. 15.”

Bet I know how Rachelle Hunt spends her summer vacation!

There are so many similar stories to tell about VCSU “hidden figures” throughout campus. From student support services to financial aid, from the library to the learning center, from building services to food service, from the heat plant to academic department offices, a host of personnel
quietly do their part to help our students succeed and our institution thrive.

But what is not hidden at VCSU is our culture. We are committed to a learner-centered philosophy. We make education meaningful with positive relationships and effective practices. And although there are those of us at VCSU who often serve as the “face” and those who serve as “hidden figures,” at the end of the day, everyone knows “We All Row” and that makes everyday a great day to be a Viking!