Genesee Board Approves Innovative 'Individualized Studies' Degree Program

Genesee Community College's Board of Trustees this evening approved an innovative new degree program in Individualized Studies, a program that will give students the opportunity to customize their courses of study to meet particular career interests. The Board's approval is the first of three required approvals. The State University of New York must now approve the new program, followed by the New York State Education Department.

The Individualized Studies program is a 65-credit hour program that will provide students with an Associate in Applied Science degree. It is geared toward students who have a specific academic or career objective that might not be met through existing degree programs at Genesee or other colleges. It can be completed in two years of full-time study, or a longer period of part-time study. If approvals are granted as planned, the program will be fully operational in the fall 2003 semester.

The program is highly flexible, according to Dr. Claudia H. Moore, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. "Suppose that a student had a specific interest in retail-oriented computer technology," she said. "Right now, that student could enroll in our Fashion Merchandising Management program or our Information Technology Program. In the future, that student could combine elements of both programs through the new Individualized Studies degree." Michael S. Stoll, Dean of Math, Science and Career Education said that he could envision students combining elements of Theatre and Business Administration; Science and Criminal Justice; and Fashion Merchandising Management and Art. All students pursuing the Individualized Studies degree will be required to develop individual education plans geared toward their career goals, with at least 24 credit hours focusing on their career concentration.

The program is especially ideal for students who wish to pursue studies in areas for which no degree program exists. "Many of these students simply pursue a General Studies degree, and pick up some of the coursework that's particularly relevant to their career interest through that degree," Dr. Moore said. "But now, students with a highly specific career goal can pull courses from the General Studies program and courses from other degree programs to fit their needs. The new program means that we can design degrees to fit hundreds of specific jobs or careers."

Students in the Individualized Studies program could also pursue courses at other colleges, including independent study at SUNY/Empire State College.

A required course in the new program will be Career and Educational Planning, a new three-credit course that will usually be offered during students' first semester. This course will provide students with an orientation to the job market as well as an opportunity to map out the sequence of academic and experience requirements they need to succeed in their chosen fields.

The flexibility of the new program makes it highly innovative, noted Dr. Moore. "The job market changes all the time," she told the Board. "New jobs and careers open up quickly, and the Individualized Studies program gives our students the chance to develop unique courses of study to prepare for new careers without having to wait for the College to develop new academic degree programs. Also, a new degree program could be offered only if we had a sizeable audience. But the Individualized Studies program focused on a particular career goal can be possible even if there is only one student involved."

Although the College does not have an estimate of potential enrollment in the new program, it could be very large, Dr. Moore said. Currently, about 250 students with specific job objectives enroll in the General Studies degree program - a degree usually favored by students wishing to transfer to baccalaureate colleges - each year. During the program's first year, the College estimates that twenty-five students will enroll on a full-time basis, and another twenty on a part-time basis. After five years, 75 students are expected to be enrolled on a full-time basis and 40 students on a part-time basis.

Because the program will make use of existing courses, the College will not need to add any courses to implement the program other than the new Career and Educational Planning course. The new program does not require any additional faculty members.

In other business this evening, the Board of Trustees:

• Approved renewals of four-year continuing appointments for ten faculty and staff members: Meredith Altman, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Intermediate Studies; Donna Blake, Professor of Human Services; Ramon Chaya, Director of Continuing Education; Marirose Ethington, Associate Professor of Biology; Marcia Morrison, Director of Fine and Performing Arts; Andrea Pernick, Professor of Nursing; Charles Platt, Professor of Communications and Media Arts; Judith Sikora, Professor and Librarian/Coordinator of Library Services; Timothy Tomczak, Associate Professor of Psychology; and Carl Wahlstrom, Professor of Intermediate Studies and Sociology.

• Approved initial four-year continuing appointments for seven faculty and staff members: Gina Christiano, Technical Specialist, Media Services; Tracy Ford, Instructor of English; Anne Heale, Campus Center Associate, Arcade; Margaret Heater, Director, Center for Academic Progress; Jacqueline MacKay, Campus Center Associate - Dansville; Santina Marsceill, Associate for Workforce and Continuing Education; and Michael von Schiller, Instructor of Physical Education/Men's Basketball Coach.

• Heard Dr. Moore report that the College expects to submit requests to the New York State Education Department to offer additional distance learning degree programs within the next several months. These include distance learning degree and certificate programs in Accounting, Economic Crime Investigation, a certificate in Entrepreneurship, and a certificate in General Education. Last year, the New York State Education Department granted Genesee "fast-track" status for distance learning applications. "Fast-track" status means that the College will receive quick approval - usually thirty to sixty days - for requests to offer existing degree programs in distance learning format. Distance learning, which includes online study, is ideal for students whose job and family responsibilities prevent them from attending traditional classroom-based courses, Dr. Moore said.