Big Idea #2: Creating innovative 5-year programs

"Creating innovative five-year professional programs," the second of President Christopher Dahl's Big Ideas, aims to attract new students by allowing them to obtain a Master's degree within five years.

The task force, co-chaired by education professor Dennis Showers and psychology professor Terence Bazzett, includes seven other faculty and staff members.

"[Big Idea No. 2] means a student would come here as a freshman or transfer, and stay here right through their Master's degree," said Showers, who has helped pioneer the department's proposed five-year program for science teachers.

"For teachers, if you're going to teach in New York state, you need a Master's at some point," Showers said. "This way, you have your Master's requirement met before you even started teaching."

Though the task force has explored adding five-year programs in areas such as psychology and counseling, it has focused its attention on developing five-year programs for education majors.

Geneseo currently offers one five-year Master's program designed for accounting majors seeking 150 credit hours in order to sit for the Certified Public Accountant exam.

The task force recently divided itself into subcommittees to continue researching model programs at other institutions, such as other SUNY schools and Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges members, as well as perform market research to determine the feasibility and appeal of additional five-year programs at Geneseo.

"If we change to five-year programs, we need to find out if students will come here or go elsewhere," Showers said. "It may be that some students come here specifically because of the five-year programs, others may not for the opposite reason."

Showers said that members of the task force will be visiting classes to collect feedback from current students. The task force is still exploring ways of surveying prospective students, but he said the admissions office will likely be involved by surveying students when they visit the campus.

Showers also said that he does not believe students will be appointed to the force, as "the kind of work we're doing is not one where point of view really matters. It's about researching the best models."

In its research of workable models, the task force must also determine more minute details such as when graduate tuition would be charged.

Dahl said he believes five-year programs offer many benefits for Geneseo students and aid in the advancement of the college.

"The combined program … allows students to spread practical experiences over five years, an approach that offers them greater flexibility in their curriculum choices," Dahl wrote in his charge to the task force. "Combined five-year programs represent cutting-edge professional training for teacher education students, and Geneseo would remain ahead of the curve with this innovation."