Dr. Debora Dragseth, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at DSU, explained the significance of the change.
“Two years ago, the Department of Business took on graduate programs and requested to be the School of Business. It’s a little more prestigious, and typically with graduate programs, you want to have more prestige,” she said. “The Department of Education now has two different graduate programs … which put them on par with the School of Business, and a typical school within a university would have graduate programs, so the request was made to the president’s cabinet to have a name change from the Department of Education to the School of Education.”
The university started its first graduate program in education in the fall of 2018, the Master of Arts in Teaching. This fall, it adds another graduate program, the Master of Arts in Teaching – Athletic Educational Leadership, as well as two new associate programs, the Associate of Science in Elementary Education and the Associate of Science in Secondary Education.
Dr. Deborah Secord, faculty member with the School of Education, said the new programs came from the university’s dual mission.
“Specifically, about a year ago, myself and a few others had a meeting, and one of the individuals who was in the meeting was Dr. Marcus Lewton of Dickinson Middle School,” she said. “One of the things that he mentioned was that they’re always wanting to get their paraprofessional educators to get more training and more education, so we looked at what we could do to offer some training without students having to take the full education program. They would still get that educational pedagogy that would help them work in the classrooms with individual students.”
The university’s Department of Education realized they could create these associate programs without having to add new courses, so they did.
“We also frequently have parents who come and enroll in our education program because they want to homeschool their kids, and they don’t want to actually teach, but they want to get some of that pedagogy down so they can be a qualified home-school teacher for their child,” Secord said.
All of the new courses, as well as the undergraduate courses, will be available online as well.
The newly formed School of Education will be led by Dr. Joan Oigawa Aus who joins the university today.
“Dr. Aus comes to Dickinson State University from a successful position in which she oversaw more than 700 undergraduate elementary education majors,” said Dragseth. “She’s such a creative person, and she is so dedicated to education and dedicated to building particularly the elementary education … There’s a lot of people retiring out of elementary ed … There is a need, especially in our small, rural communities for elementary ed instructors.”
The formation of the School of Education, the university’s second school, is the culmination of many years of work.
“I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s showing recognition of the fact that we are looking out at the community and seeing what are the ways that we can meet the teacher shortage … I just think it’s recognition that has been earned,” Secord said.
“Dickinson State was founded in 1918 as Dickinson Normal School to train educators, so teacher education has always been at the core of our mission,” said DSU President Steve Easton. “We are excited to be entering this new phase with the School of Education.”