Simpson will consider graduate program

by Bridgette Davis

Simpson College may no longer be only an undergraduate institution.

A proposal for the addition of a Master’s of Arts in Teaching program was approved for recommendation to the faculty by the Educational Policy and Curriculum Committee in McNeill Hall last Thursday afternoon.

According to the proposal submitted, the MAT program would be “an applied program designed for the adult student with a bachelor’s degree in an area commonly taught at the middle or secondary level.”

In addition, the program is projected to bring in a revenue between $80,000-90,000 per year with a projected enrollment of only 15 students.

“This program was formatted so that Simpson could fulfill a specific niche for the needs of college graduates and professionals in the greater Des Moines area,” said Director of the Division of Adult Learning Walter Pearson. “We see the seasoning of at least one year in the workplace as a valuable experience in teaching.”

Associate Professor of Education Steve Rose, who was largely responsible for the proposal itself, said, “This program is a rarity in that we will require additional work in the content area, additions to the education curriculum at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.”

Many professors from the Education Department and the Division of Adult Learning cooperated to develop the MAT program and format it to Simpson’s needs.

The first step was this year’s change in scheduling for secondary education courses. The secondary education program shifted into evening courses so that DAL students could have more access to the education department.

“Our enrollment in secondary education courses has doubled since we made the move to the evening courses this fall and there is already a significant amount of interest in the MAT program from Simpson Alumni and others around the area,” said Rose.

The MAT program would follow this evening schedule as well, so that students could maintain full-time employment up until student teaching.

The proposal, which includes the addition of three new 500 level courses, was initially presented this fall by the Education Department.

The entire faculty will vote on the proposal after a 28 day waiting period, which is designed so that faculty members have ample time to form educated opinions on the issue at hand. The 28 days began last Thursday when the initiative was passed by the EPCC.

However, this 28 days may not be spent in quiet deliberation. Many faculty members see this proposal as a decision of major importance, logistically as well as philosophically, for the college.

“Our critiques from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (the organization through which we are accredited) has said that we try to do ‘too much with too little’; this would be adding an even greater load,” said Social Science Department Chair Lora Friedrich.

“I really think that the faculty should have had a discussion about the role of graduate studies philosophically at Simpson before we even considered this.”

Friedrich is not alone in her concerns about the program. Faculty members have expressed concerns to department chairs, as well as to EPCC representatives.

“I am deeply concerned about the fact that the Education Department is already unable to teach Cornerstone classes, Senior Colloquium, or participate in the Simpson Community as a whole. I fear that this program would only isolate the [Education] department more. As a liberal arts college, community has to be the first priority,” said Friedrich.