Committee proposes new degree

Derek Lenehan

The Regional Campus Faculty Advisory Committee discussed a potential new degree to be offered by regional campuses, and reinforced its position on outsourcing non-credit courses during a conference Friday in the Student Center.

The degree, currently titled the Bachelor of Professional Studies degree, is targeted toward adult students and people who already have associate degrees. Course requirements for the degree are split over various qualities deemed desirable by prospective employers, ranging from critical thinking to diversity/internationalism.

Shirley Barton, executive dean of the regional campuses, introduced the program and answered most of the questions faculty had regarding the degree during the conference.

Doubts were cast by attendees on several aspects of the program.

John Marino, associate professor of technology, mentioned three specific complaints that were echoed by other members of the council during the meeting: The lack of an academic home, lack of an identifiable body, and the possibility of other degrees following the example set were all mentioned.

“This opens up Pandora’s box,” Marino said.

Faculty members also said the program had virtues and could attract numerous people to regional campuses, where the degree will be offered.

In order to determine classes for the degree, prospective employers for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in professional studies were polled about what qualities they thought most important for employees. Oral communication was rated the highest of 17 listed qualities, slightly ahead of judgment and decision making. Written communication and ethics tied for third.

“We have had an opportunity to share information with key regional campus leaders and hear their questions, and advice and suggestions on this curriculum we’re proposing,” Barton said after the meeting concluded.

The potential degree is scheduled to be presented to Faculty Senate in May, and would likely be enacted in either spring or fall of 2007.

The outsourcing of non-credit courses was addressed with Pat Book, vice president of regional development. Online education providers were the specific target during the conference. The outsourcing, which was called an “attractive” idea, was cited as a way to boost attendance at regional campuses. While online courses are not to be offered through the university, it could still profit from students who take outsourced courses that were introduced through Kent State.

RCFAC members, as well as Book, stressed the importance of not awarding credit for outsourced classes.

Contact academic affairs reporter Derek Lenehan at [email protected].