BY HOLLY FISHER
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong
In the months following the decision to headquarter the College of Education at the UAS campus, students and staff have expressed concerns regarding how the changes will affect students and their degree programs.
The staff responsible for implementing the changes has made it clear that their main focus is on improving the quality of education offered to those enrolled at any of the UA campuses. The goal of the College switch is to streamline things for students, not to leave them out of a program.
“Any student that is currently in a program always has the right to… teach out. If a program is ever closing in any area, the students can continue in that program until they finish. We never just cut a student off and say ‘well, we’re closing the program, and you’re done.’ It’s always about the students,” UAS Provost Dr. Karen Carey said, when asked about this central question.
With the management of the College being placed under one university, there have also been some questions over whether faculty would be moved, or if any campuses would have fewer professors on site.
“The faculty at each of the campuses remains at their campus. Faculty that are teaching in Education right now in Fairbanks … will become UAS faculty but… they’ll work out of Fairbanks,” Provost Carey said.
There are no current plans to change professor assignments, or to relocate any individuals out of their previous university.
Some are still surprised by the unexpected reversal of President Johnson’s UAF-centered proposal. Credit for the change has been given to the UAS student body, and the wider Southeast community.
“The community outpouring was really important. The students came together and wrote a letter to Jim Johnson expressing their desire for it to stay here… Alumni from UAS who are already teachers, and principles, and superintendents, they all wrote letters stating why it should be here… The whole community of Southeast Alaska really came together and really pushed for this,” said Provost Carey.
Though the campus is glad to have been chosen for the College, discussion has persisted over what would have happened to UAS if the choice had gone a different direction.
When asked about what would have happened if UAS had not been the location for the College, Provost Carey was adamant in the importance of the College being centered here.
“Education is one of our strongest programs that we have on this campus in terms of the number of students we recruit, the number of students who end up graduating… had it not come here, it would have really had a major impact on our campus overall.”
Losing the School of Education would have removed UAS’ most popular Masters program, and meant that it would only have the Masters of Public Administration for graduate studies. This would have effectively made it an undergraduate-only institution.
“It would have made a big difference in how UAS is viewed… I don’t think we would be seen as a regional comprehensive university, as we are right now,” said Provost Carey.
The future of the College of Education is on course and set to open a new chapter in UAS history. So long as things continue to progress with this forward momentum, it will be a great boost to all of the Southeast educational community.