The Heart of the College
It’s exciting to plan construction of new buildings on the campus of Dalton State College and to imagine athletic teams that will stir our blue and silver passions, but it is our slate of academic programs that is at the heart of the College and around which all other aspects of college life revolve.
As Dalton State evolves into the traditional four-year senior college that we envision for Northwest Georgia, it is essential that we give serious consideration to the degree programs that we offer here.
This careful examination and evaluation of our programmatic blueprint led to the unveiling of our five-year Academic Master Plan, which was reviewed by Dr. Sandra Stone, Vice President for Academic Affairs, in two public presentations last week. Since she arrived on campus six months ago, Dr. Stone, in conjunction with administration, faculty, business leaders and others, has been working on a companion plan to our Campus Master Plan that was rolled out in February.
One plan envisions a traditional college campus with a central pedestrian pathway running through the academic core, surrounded by student support services on the periphery and anchored on the north and south ends by residential housing communities. The other lays out an ambitious array of four-year baccalaureate programs, the College’s first degree programs in the arts, and even selected master’s programs that we aspire to offer down the road.
Dalton State currently offers 14 four-year degree programs in addition to a vast assortment of two-year associate degree and certificate programs. Our new plan calls for the development of some 23 additional baccalaureate programs over the next five years, as well as three new associate degrees in fine arts.
The path from proposal to program is an arduous one. A proposed degree program must undergo an intense vetting process by the Board of Regents to ensure that there is demonstrated need and interest, that there will be employment opportunities on the back end, and also adequate financial resources to support the program. This rigorous process typically runs at least a year from the time a new degree program is proposed until it can be offered on campus.
Once approved, each academic program undergoes continuous assessment and comprehensive program review to ensure that it continues to meet performance targets as well as regional economic and community development needs, that there is sufficient student interest and faculty expertise to maintain the program, and that it remains financially viable.
Sometimes that means deactivating or eliminating academic programs for which there is no longer sufficient support. As we roll out our new Academic Master Plan, we will be deactivating six associate degrees which have experienced low or no enrollment over the last several years. Six other degree programs will be revised to bring them into conformance with industry needs and standards.
The 23 new programs we plan to introduce will be developed in three phases. We hope to introduce our first new bachelor’s program (an RN to BSN degree in Nursing) by January of 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in General Studies (designed for adults who started but never finished college) soon after. Our long-term aspirational goal will be to earn approval to offer selected masters’ degrees.Between our Campus Master Plan and our Academic Master Plan we believe we have designed a framework for living and learning at Dalton State College that should serve us well for the next many years.