BY ALLY HUTZLER AND TARA MARIN
Manhattan College has not been widely known as a graduate school, but starting next year, some departments will be expanding and offering new graduate degrees and certificates. Only a few weeks after the mechanical engineering department revealed its plans to offer six new graduate certificates, the math department issued a press release stating that it too will be offering two additional graduate options.
As for the mechanical engineering program, students now have the opportunity to achieve a certificate in biomechanics, engineering management, energy systems, nuclear power, green building engineering or aerospace and propulsion. To obtain a certificate, students are expected to complete 12 credits of coursework, involving two required courses and an elective, as well as a research component.
The new mathematics graduate program targets students who want to pursue careers as higher education teachers, curriculum developers or researchers. For undergraduate students in the School of Education who wish to become certified in teaching grades seven through 12, the program will certify them once they have completed three years of teaching. Graduate students in the program have the option of a full-time or part-time enrollment.
The press release for the program states that the traditional curriculum “aims to prepare students to become master teachers of mathematics, to teach the community college system, or to prepare for doctoral work.”
Kathryn Weld, Ph.D., professor of mathematics and chair of the mathematics department, is excited for it to unfold in the 2015-16 school year. As its director, she will head a committee that reviews applications and later selects which applicants to admit to the program. Weld will also be responsible for overseeing the curriculum.
Weld said she hopes that the program will help to address the current need for teachers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. She intends for this to be accomplished by “marrying the traditional strength of Manhattan College in the STEM fields with the Lasallian heritage of concern with education,” she said.
While the program is likely to be small, she said the program has the potential to grow.
“Expanding our program to include applied math and data analytics will prepare graduates to pursue rewarding technical careers,” Weld said.
Because Manhattan College is primarily an undergraduate institution, these new programs can introduce additional opportunities as well as some concerns for the quality of the future of undergraduate education at the college.
Provost William Clyde said he does not expect any drastic changes to occur within the school that would disrupt the focus on the current undergraduate students.
“It’s not a huge change in the people here or the size of the school,” Clyde said. “I think that the quality of our programming is such that it could well attract students from the outside but I don’t think that it would be overwhelming. The first line is going to be to fully serve our traditional undergraduates to get them on the way to what they need to do.”
Clyde said that in his time as provost, he has spoken with faculty members who felt the college could offer programs that undergraduates wanted to continue on to for graduate work.
Clyde said that the professors insisted that it should be made a priority and that students really wanted that option as well. Clyde agreed and suggested they make proposals for different graduate offerings.
“I think that seems like a potential area of growth for us that would serve our community and would fit in with what we can do.” Clyde said.
The directors and deans of all the current graduate programs also formed a graduate council that meets three times a semester to discuss the current programs in place and explore what other programs could be created and are feasible for the college to offer.
“We’re not trying to do new, wild things that have nothing to do with stuff that we already do,” Clyde said. “It’s more about extending things we are already doing that we know students are interested in.”