Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

December 26, 2012

Higher education — A new milestone for Bluefield College

Students in Bluefield College’s School of Education now have the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in education, a welcomed development that officials are calling one of the most significant academic advancements since Bluefield College became a four-year college in 1975.

Bluefield College has been approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to offer master’s degrees beginning in the fall of 2013. The college will begin its master’s level instruction within the school of education with a master of arts degree in education.

After achieving national accreditation in 2009 and receiving Virginia Department of Education approval to offer teaching licenses in special education in 2011, the school of education immediately went to work on the approval process for master’s degrees in education for practicing teachers and for those with bachelor’s degrees who desire a teaching license, according to Bluefield College President Dr. David Olive.  

The year-long process involved writing curriculum, gathering data, and contacting prospective faculty for the master’s program.

“This is a tremendous step for Bluefield College in its maturation as a school of higher education,” Olive said last week. “Now, nearly 40 years after earning accreditation to offer the baccalaureate degree, the college is expanding its program opportunities to include degrees at the master’s level.”

Founded as a junior college in 1922, Bluefield College originally offered only associate degrees in subjects like business and engineering until transitioning to a four-year degree granting institution in 1975 with added majors in English, history, religion, and behavioral science. The college’s first-ever master degree program is now a reality nearly four decades later.

Olive said the college is expressing recognition and gratitude to Dr. Donna Hardy Watson, dean of the school of education, and to Dr. Robert Shippey, vice president for academic affairs, and several others who led the effort for master’s degree approval.

“We are very pleased that our commitment to academic excellence has been recognized by our peer evaluative body resulting in this significant milestone for the college,” Shippey added last week. “Our school of education has been a flagship program at Bluefield College that has been preparing skilled, compassionate teachers for many years. Naturally, this new graduate program initiative was a logical next step. Our outstanding education faculty are to be commended for their hard work and vision.”

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges approval to offer master’s degrees comes just weeks after BC announced plans to create a new dental school and on the heels of the introduction of a new special education curriculum, new nursing program and eight new online degrees.

We applaud Bluefield College on its recent successes, and its commitment to the community through projects like the new dental school.

The addition of its master’s degree program is a significant step for the college. All of those involved in helping to make this happen should be applauded for their efforts.

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