Recent college merger to strengthen programming for adult students
JOHNSON CITY (Oct. 29, 2020) – Strengthening and improving academic programming for adult students at all levels is a primary goal of the new College of Graduate and Continuing Studies at East Tennessee State University.
The college formed during the summer of 2020 through merging the existing School of Graduate Studies and School of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach. Following the retirement of Dr. Rick Osborn, longtime dean of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach, university officials decided on this new direction to maximize academic and fiscal efficiencies and to best align with the university’s mission.
Dr. Sharon James McGee, formerly dean of Graduate Studies, now leads the new college, which now houses not only the certificate, master’s and doctoral degrees traditionally overseen by Graduate Studies, but also all of the academic programming from Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach.
This programming includes the bachelor’s degrees in general studies and interdisciplinary studies, master’s degrees in liberal studies and professional studies, as well as professional development and transfer articulation.
In addition, the new college is now home to two interdisciplinary research units – the Strong BRAIN Institute and the Child and Family Health Institute (CFHI). The Strong BRAIN (Building Resilience through ACEs Informed Networking) Institute, which was founded through a five-year gift from Ballad Health, promotes the awareness and study of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The multidisciplinary CFHI addresses issues affecting the health of women, children and families in the context of their communities.
Among future plans for the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies are working with regional business and industry to expand professional development opportunities to provide needed badges and micro-credentials for current and future employees, the creation of new interdisciplinary programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and more.
“In addition to the continuing education units, or CEUs, that we provide, the micro-credentialing aspect is something that is very exciting and is being examined nationwide as a way for folks to get smaller pieces of coursework,” McGee said. “That’s something we want to explore and see if it would be a good fit for ETSU and the community.”
While much remains the same, the creation of the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies will provide many avenues for growth that will benefit not only graduate students, but also non-traditional undergraduates who are above the traditional 18 to 21 years of age.
“We’re really just taking the foundation of what Dr. Osborn had built in the School of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach,” McGee says, “and moving forward to pursue opportunities we may now have as a college. We will also continue to keep our focus on graduate education, enrollment, retention and graduation, and providing a really good experience for graduate students at ETSU.
“The whole idea is to strengthen all aspects of programming that we do for adult students, whether that be undergraduate or graduate students or community members who are taking certification courses or continuing education courses. Our focus is going to be on adult learners in all forms.”
ETSU’s off-campus centers in Kingsport; Sevierville; Asheville, North Carolina; and Abingdon, Virginia – formerly housed in Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach – are now under the oversight of Dr. David Linville, ETSU’s executive vice provost for Academics and Health.For more information, call 423-439-4221.