2018 Priorities: Build programs, blended delivery of education

Dr. Terry Dale CruseThe Meridian Star invited some community leaders to write about their top three priorities for 2018. This column is from Terry Dale Cruse, administrative director and head of campus of Mississippi State University-Meridian.

The completion of each year provides a time to focus on the accomplishments of the past and opportunities for the future. It has been a great year for MSU-Meridian, and I am thankful for the work of our faculty, staff and students. Their dedication helped us reach new heights. As we look to the future, three main goals top the list for 2018.

We are excited to be the first state institution of higher learning approved to plan a Master of Physician Assistant Studies program. A recent national search, led by our faculty and local healthcare leaders, yielded one of the nation’s best physician assistant educators. Dr. Debra Munsell will join us from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans where she recently launched a PA program which achieved the maximum continual accreditation. While initial phases of this process are underway, Dr. Munsell will lead the development of a comprehensive self-study, which outlines every detail of starting that program and establishing our curriculum. The document will be delivered to the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) by this time next year, ahead of our accreditation team’s scheduled visit in April 2019. ARC-PA will formally vote on our request for accreditation in September 2019, and we plan to start our first class in January of 2020.

We will launch a Professional Master of Business Administration (MBA) in the summer of 2018. The program will center on working adults and give admission consideration for previous work experience in lieu of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Additionally the program will focus on blending online and in class delivery to meet flexibility needs of working adults. The Professional MBA will assist in developing future leaders for our local economy, through excellent faculty in a program with the highest level of accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

As a new generation of students emerges, we seek to understand how to better engage technology in curriculum delivery. Our enrollment is comprised of students ranging from 20 years of age to a recent graduate who was 80. Blended delivery allows us to literally offer face-to-face, synchronous online, and recorded options for most any class on our Meridian campuses. An initial experiment with this delivery was done in the summer and fall semesters of 2017 with elementary education classes. This year we will equip more faculty to engage the power of blended delivery in their classes, making an MSU education possible for many who would otherwise not be able to attain it.

As we look to the future, expanding opportunities to an excellent, accessible, and affordable education for citizens of this region will remain our top priority. I look forward to reporting even greater things this time next year.

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