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AlumNews: Talon Articles

MSE defeated by narrow margin

Monday, January 28, 2008  
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By Alison Roberts

Several Oklahoma Christian University students returned to campus to begin the spring semester with an uncertainty regarding their post-graduate plans.

The students, members of the university’s School of Engineering, were forced to reconsider the university at which they would pursue their Masters of Science in Engineering after a proposal to implement such a degree at Oklahoma Christian was defeated in November.

“I originally planned to pursue my Masters Degree here,” senior Steven Swanson said.

After the proposal failed, Swanson said he will postpone his graduate plans and seek out a job in the Oklahoma City area and earn his Masters Degree at a later time.

Senior Marshall Warren said he looked forward to completing his MSE at Oklahoma Christian because of the Christ-centered environment he has enjoyed throughout his undergraduate education.

“I wanted to keep my funding going through Oklahoma Christian to support Christian education,” Warren said. “I will probably have to go to a local university instead.”

The MSE proposal began as an idea when Robert Mitchell joined the university as the Associate Dean of the College of Professional Studies.

He said the addition of the graduate program would complete an already strong degree program.

“Every other university I had been with offered graduate programs in engineering,” Mitchell said. “The MSE has become the professional degree in engineering.”

To keep up with the ever changing nature of technology, undergraduate engineering programs nation-wide and at Oklahoma Christian required a five-year commitment of students according to Mitchell.

The importance of graduate level programs has risen in an attempt to reduce time required to complete an undergraduate degree.

Mitchell presented the proposal to the Graduate Council, a campus organization comprised of graduate faculty members and representatives from each of the undergraduate colleges.

“The graduate council considered the program from an academic standpoint and passed it on to the full faculty for a vote,” Vice President for Academic Affairs Allison Garrett said.

Before the November vote, the faculty was given three opportunities to familiarize themselves with the proposed program according to Garrett.

Formal presentations were made at faculty meetings in September and November. An informal question-and-answer session was held in October.

“Information was posted online and links were circulated so that faculty could read the lengthy proposal,” Garrett said.

The vote was conducted between Nov. 28 and Nov. 30 via a confidential Blackboard survey. Of the 101 eligible faculty members, 90 participated in the voting process. The proposal was overturned by a narrow margin of 48 against the proposal and 42 in support of the proposal.

“There are a few faculty members who think that if we don’t offer the new program, we can reduce the costs in Engineering by cutting faculty,” Mitchell said. “In my opinion, a good way to improve our university is to offer the new program that leads to a better reputation, a better school, to more students and to more resources for everyone.”

Mitchell said the program would simply be a more efficient use of existing resources.

“Courses would be taken from the Bachelor of Science degree and moved to the MSE,” Mitchell said. “We have the faculty to teach the program and many unfilled classes.”

Crossover classes for undergraduate seniors and MSE students would also be an option in order to fill empty seats in pre-existing courses.

Surveys of current students and alumni indicated that interest in the program would provide a base from which the first classes would be comprised.

“Thirty-three students signed a petition stating that they would seriously consider attending the program full time,” Mitchell said. “An internet survey indicated that 150 alumni showed an interest in either part-time or full-time involvement in a MSE program offered by Oklahoma Christian.”

Despite the defeat, Mitchell said he will continue to pursue the implementation of his proposal.

“It is my top priority,” Mitchell said. “I’m going to encourage the faculty to help.”

Even though they may not benefit from the implementation of the MSE program, students say they are eager to see the proposal accepted by faculty.

“I still think the program is a good idea for future graduates,” Swanson said. “I think that once the faculty has had adequate time to gain a thorough understanding of the proposal, the majority will vote for its acceptance.”

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