Tales from the Dark Side

Last week, I began my appointment as Faculty Associate/Assistant Provost at Mansfield University.  My primary duties in this position will include coordinating the Faculty Work-in-Progress Speaker Series for spring semester, assisting with the annual Showcase of Student Scholarship, and working with the Department of Education and Special Education and the Associate Provost/Interim Dean of Faculty in the development of new curricula and delivery options, along with the usual “other duties as assigned” (I’m already aware of one of these other duties, and hopefully another will be added in the near future). One of my tasks, then, is to resurrect the post-baccalaureate certification program that was eliminated a few years ago (since then, there has been an approximately 50% decrease in graduate enrollment–perhaps just a coincidence, but I suspect there may be a correlation).  For instance, prior to the elimination of the PB certification program in social studies, we had between 10-12 student teachers a year; this academic year, we will have two, one each semester.  Resurrecting the post-baccalaureate certification program(s) will involve research (yay!) into how other 5th year/post-baccalaureate certification programs within PASSHE (and perhaps outside) operate and perhaps inquire about issues they have faced in creating and maintaining the program.

The view from the office

The view from the office

I am excited to have this opportunity to bring back a program that attracted students and produced high quality teachers.  The benefit of a post-baccalaureate certification program in social studies (in which students are certified to teach seven subjects:  history, civics and government, geography, economics, psychology, sociology, and anthropology) is that students’ content knowledge would be much stronger if students completed a major in history and a minor in one or more of the other social studies content areas and then pursued teaching certification as part of a graduate program.  Some universities in PASSHE, such as Slippery Rock, already have a 5th year certification program in place, which means that Mansfield will not be doing something that discourages prospective students but instead would help them become better teachers (and hopefully not tell their students that there are 52 states).  Plus, students have found the new pre-gate exam, PAPA, to be a bit challenging (to put it mildly–but at least our 39% pass rate is among the highest in PASSHE), and shifting to a post-baccalaureate program eliminates that as a barrier to student advancement in the teacher education program (currently, they must pass all 3 parts of PAPA–reading, writing, and math–before enrolling in any upper level Education or Special Education courses).

As a part-time (technically, 1/4 time) administrator, I am also learning that there are some things that I am not allowed to know or discuss because of confidentiality issues.  After all, I am still 3/4 faculty, and I’m guessing that they don’t want to trust me or the other faculty associates with state secrets yet (maybe they do realize that I write a blog!).  I have no control or input over budgetary issues; I cannot handle any problems with staff or faculty (including complaints); and I almost have to take a vow of silence–or, more accurately, emulate Sgt. Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes and say I know nothing.  To paraphrase, what happens on the 5th floor (where the administration is located) stays on the 5th floor. I have found out, however, that when it comes to snow days, I am not considered an essential employee (yay!).  Now I just have to find out if my new position also means that I have have to censor what I write in my blogs–and, if so, how I can find a way to vent my frustrations when I start grading assignments and exams again.

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About Karen

History Professor. Baseball fan. Author of two books, one of which I force my students to buy and read. You want me on your Trivial Pursuit team.
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2 Responses to Tales from the Dark Side

  1. Bob Aregood says:

    NOw I know what one does at Mansfield when it snows! You should be safe on the 5th floor.
    Peace, Bob Aregood

    • Karen says:

      Actually, I was homebound and spending some time working with church records. Unfortunately, the early Consistory minutes haven’t translated themselves yet.

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