6a. Unit Leadership and Authority
6a.1. Describe how the unit will manage or coordinate the planning, delivery, and operation of all programs for the preparation of educators.
The Division of Education is the unit responsible for all educator preparation programs at Thomas University. The Division of Education has the authority to oversee all teacher education licensure programs, with input and advice from its internal and external committees. The Unit provides leadership for all educator preparation programs, including coordination of accreditation and state program approval activities and oversight of curriculum and policies. The Division of Education chair reports directly to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Education faculty members are under the leadership of the Division of Education Chairperson. The Chair of the Division of Education is the Unit head and is assisted by the Coordinator of Assessment and Accreditation, the Coordinator of Placements and Partnerships, and a full-time administrative assistant. The Chair oversees the development and direction of the University’s educator preparation programs.
The Division’s Faculty Council meets monthly and is comprised of all faculty members with a 100% assignment in the Division. Faculty Council addresses broad topics impacting the entire department such as: faculty responsibilities (assignment of responsibilities, annual evaluation, promotion, merit); curriculum and class scheduling; student recruitment, advisement, retention, and testing; adjunct faculty recruitment, training, supervision, and retention; instructional equipment and facilities; special projects; and alumni relations. Agenda items may be referred to the Faculty Council by the Department Chair, a Program Coordinator, PK-12 school partner, or a student, faculty, staff member, or alumni of the department. Specifically, Faculty Council has responsibility for reviewing and giving final approval for policy recommendations (curriculum proposals, budget) made by individual programs.
An additional priority of Faculty Council is to discuss candidate progress and to analyze data and make decisions regarding program improvement. Data-driven decisions and research-based practices are the foundation for our program enhancements and improvements. Additionally, Faculty Council hears and makes decisions regarding all teacher candidate petitions and appeals. The Division Chair is responsible for scheduling faculty meetings, establishing the agenda, conducting the meetings, making the arrangements for meeting minutes, and distributing the minutes of the meetings.
6a.2. Describe the unit's proposed recruiting and admissions policies. Describe how the unit will ensure that they are clearly and consistently described in publications and catalogues.
The Unit’s recruiting and admissions efforts are led by the Thomas University Admissions Office and our partner, K-12 Teachers Alliance. The K-12 Teachers Alliance (KTA) supports Thomas University’s development of off-campus master’s degree programs for teachers in Georgia. The Associate VP for KTA University relations, works alongside the multiple Thomas University administrators (Chair of the Division of Education, the Executive VPAA/Provost, and the VP for Enrollment Management University) to develop marketing and communication materials that will be used to recruit potential students into the programs. KTA provides a dedicated Thomas University team that ensures that recruiting and admissions policies are accurately and clearly shared with potential students and additional support is provided to students, as needed, throughout the program. The goal is to assist candidates with all facets of the process in order to ensure a positive experience from application through graduation.
Applications and supporting admission documents are submitted from KTA to Thomas University through a secure server. The application is imported into CAMS and student files are created by admissions staff. Supporting documents are uploaded by KTA and retrieved daily by Thomas University Admissions. The Director of Admissions places completed files for review with the Division of Education. When a decision is reached, the TU Office of Admissions notifies the applicant. Accepted students are then informed via phone/email and counseled regarding TU’s processes for student portal login, registration process, financial aid, ordering textbooks, etc.
Throughout the application process, the status of the applicant files is monitored by KTA through a reconciliation report provided by Thomas University twice per week. At the start of the term and after drop/add, the Director of Admissions provides a list of registered students to the KTA Enrollment Data Manager.
Program descriptions, admissions and program requirements are available and kept updated on the TU webpage (see M.Ed. link off main page for an example of current M.Ed. program information) and in printed brochures sent to prospective students. Requirements for admissions are outlined in the Curriculum and Instruction and Teacher Leader Admissions Requirements. The Division Chair keeps the Admissions staff and our partner, KTA apprised of updated policy and program information.
6a.3. Describe how the unit will ensure that its academic calendars, catalogues, publications, grading policies, and advertising remain accurate and current.
The University’s Academic Council, made up of the Academic Administration, all Division Chairs and program representatives, the Registrar, and Director of the Library, establishes the academic calendar at least six months in advance of the next academic year. All divisions within the university use this calendar to inform their divisional calendars, strategic and operational planning, and course scheduling.
Any admissions policies or program requirements approved by the Unit’s Faculty Council are taken to the university’s Academic Council. This body is responsible for final approval of any policy or program recommendation to maintain consistency and rigor across the institution. Once approved, policy and program requirement changes are published in the TU Catalog (posted in a web version on the TU website) and on the Division’s webpage on the website.
All graduate courses must adhere to the university’s approved grading scale. Teacher candidates’ progress is governed by university-wide academic progress policies as well as by Division policies. The grading scale and academic progress policies are published in the Catalog and Division policies in the sources noted in the paragraph above.
The Office of Academic Affairs is responsible for maintaining an accurate and up-to-date university Catalog, incorporating all items approved by Academic Council. Each academic division through its respective Division Chair is required to review and revise their particular section of the academic Catalog on an annual basis, as well as the same information on the university website.
In consultation with and approved by the Division Chair, Division publications for recruiting and advertising are updated annually, or sooner if changes mandate it, by the Admissions office. Each semester KTA submits recruiting materials to the TU Division Chair of Education for review and revising.
6a.4. Describe how the unit will ensure that candidates have access to student services such as advising and counseling.
All candidates are assigned an academic advisor. The advisor’s primary role is to assist students in enrolling for courses that lead to the timely completion of the degree program; however, in many cases advisors also mentor candidates with academic or personal issues. Quality academic advising is a required aspect of performance for every faculty member and advisor training is regularly provided by the Office of Academic Affairs. Our partner, KTA, also provides a dedicated staff member who supports candidates throughout the program.
Academic support is available through the following student services: Academic Resource Center (ARC) which provides group and individual tutoring on-campus and online via email and web-conferencing, primarily for math, writing, and research support, for all TU students; Student Support Services (SSS) which provides academic tutoring services and mentoring through the federally-funded TRiO grant for first-generation, low-income, and/or disabled students; the Thomas University Library provides individual assistance for reference, research, and information projects, as well as assisting classes in person or via a course Blackboard shell. Accommodations for students with disabilities are provided by the Office of Disabilities Service and information about receiving disabilities services (access and learning support) is included on all university syllabi. Thomas University provides free counseling services for students by referral in coordination with the Archbold Medical Center Student Assistance Program.
6a.5. Describe how members of the professional community will participate in program design, implementation, and evaluation. In what ways have members of the professional community participated in program design?
The Chair of the Division of Education has worked with the Division’s Faculty Council, Program Coordinators, Advisory Committee, Field Experience Committee, Admissions/Advising Committee, and Curriculum Committee to design the graduate programs in Teacher Leadership and Curriculum and Instruction. These committees participate in continuous review of the program design, implementation and evaluation of the program. Unit faculty serve on committees in the division, as well as on the advisory committee along with administrators and teachers from the unit’s partner schools and faculty from the Divisions of Math and Science and Humanities and Social Science. These committees are charged with the responsibility of making policy decisions or programmatic decisions that impact the design, delivery, and evaluation of the program. Our partner school teachers and administrators requested the development of the two proposed advanced degrees and have provided ongoing feedback in the design. The marketing efforts by our partner, KTA, has provided us similar feedback.
6a.6. Describe how the unit will facilitate collaboration with other academic units involved in the preparation of professional educators.
The unit collaborates with the Division of Math and Science and the Division of Humanities and Social Science to maintain a current and relevant curriculum for all programs. Members of the Division of Math and Science and the Division of Humanities sit on the Advisory Committee with unit faculty and partner school faculty and administrators. The Advisory Committee reviews data reports describing candidate performance on: a) all key assessments, b) GACE score reports, d) grades, and e) GPA data, as provided by the Assessment Committee, and makes recommendations about program improvements.
The Education Curriculum Committee considers programmatic changes based on student performance data and rule changes initiated by the Georgia Legislature. In addition, they review new course proposals and annually review course syllabi. The Education Curriculum Committee supports the work of the Division Chair, as needed, in reviewing course syllabi annually to identify areas of improvement. They discuss trends from the GACE score reports each semester to identify program needs and recommend appropriate changes. The Division of Math and Science and the Division of Humanities and Social Science faculty work with the Division of Education faculty to align the courses taken by the candidate with the GA Professional and Program Standards.