Trustees cut three Master of Education degree programs

The board inquired about how adjuncts are used at the College and other New Jersey schools. (Delisa O’Brien / Staff Photographer)

The College lost three Master of Education (MED) degree programs and appointed an affirmative action officer during a Board of Trustees meeting held Tuesday, March 1.

The board passed resolutions to discontinue master’s degree programs in educational technology, health education and physical education. Both resolutions passed unanimously without discussion.

According to the resolutions, College officials consider a program’s “impact on tenured faculty and long-term employees, … external constituents … and the stature of the college,” before determining whether to close it.

The first resolution held that “diminished interest by faculty” led to the decision to phase out the master’s program in educational technology.

The program, which will graduate those currently enrolled, is “designed for college graduates holding one or more teaching certificates who wish to become leaders in the integration of computer technology into our schools,” according to the College’s website.

The second resolution discontinued master’s programs in health education and physical education due to “a diminished number of applications” and the department’s intention to redesign its health education program around a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree.

The current program serves graduate students who already hold one or more degrees in teaching, according to a School of Nursing, Health and Exercise Science bulletin. It does not administer a teacher’s certification.

A MAT degree would provide participants with a teacher’s certification. It would also be open to graduates with bachelor’s degrees in areas other than education, according to the College’s website.

Both the MED programs in health education and physical education will fulfill “obligations to current students” before being discontinued, according to the resolution.

The Board of Trustees also introduced Kerri Thompson Tillett, the College’s new Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EEO/AA) Officer, during Tuesday’s meeting.

Tillett will be responsible for “ensuring fair and just treatment of employees and applicants for employment at the College,” according to the resolution appointing her to the position.

Before Tillett assumed the position, general counsel Thomas Mahoney had been performing the duties of the EEO/AA officer since the position was established in 2008.

The Trustees also discussed the use of adjunct professors at the College during the meeting.

Academic Affairs committee chair Robert Altman recounted the last meeting of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities (NJASCU), of which the College is a member.

“Most of our focus was on (former) governor (Thomas) Kean’s task force’s report on higher education,” Altman said.

Altman reported these findings to the academic affairs committee prior to the March 1 meeting. Some members raised questions. According to President R. Barbara Gitenstein and Altman, English professor Michael Robertson questioned the report’s failure to consider the impact of certain colleges’ “reliance on adjunct professors.”

“He was not raising a concern about adjunct use at (the College), (but saying) if this was a report that covered the entire state of New Jersey, it should include something about adjuncts,” Gitenstein told The Signal. “We should learn more about how adjuncts are used at (the College).”

As a result, Altman said, the academic affairs committee will consider the impact of the College’s use of adjunct professors over the next few months.

“What we’re going to be talking about at future meetings is, ‘What from this report should we look at?’” Altman said. “If there are trends that change, this could be a sign that the College is going in the right direction or wrong direction.”

Emily Brill can be reached at brill3@tcnj.edu.