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Project targets improving BU

Oct. 19, 2005

by TIFFANIE BLACKMON, staff writer

Baylor could be getting some new programs in the near future.

As part of its accreditation process with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the university is asking students and faculty to submit ideas for the Quality Enhancement Plan requirement.

Mary Ward, student committee member for the SACS reaffirmation project, said SACS requires schools to renew their accreditation every 10 years to maintain status as an official accredited university. The project aims to improve the university's academic environment under four main agendas.

"This used to be a self-study by the university of information involving faculty transcripts and course information put together for a team of senior faculty and administrators from other schools who would come and evaluate BU," said Tiffany Hogue, QEP coordinator and assistant provost. "Now, the study is done online."

"Students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to have their say in what they want to see happen on campus," Hogue said.

Students, faculty or staff can submit a two-page pre-proposal by Nov. 1 that addresses ways to improve student learning and implement that improvement. The pre-proposal should also include significant involvement of the academic community.

"The submissions, which are done through the web, are anonymous when we first get them," Hogue said. "Up to four projects will be chosen ... Whoever is chosen will receive a stipend and have to write a 14-15 page proposal that will be presented to SACS."

Hogue stressed these ideas need to be submitted as soon as possible because of the deadline.

"We have a lot of freedom in the topic of choice but we have to prove that it will improve student learning," Hogue said. "Students are the primary beneficiary of the program."

She said other schools and universities have implemented programs such as freshman seminars and leadership programs.

Georgia Tech began a global citizenship program after their QEP program concluded.

Southern Methodist University last underwent the reaffirmation process in 1998. During that time, the university developed the idea for an educational training center for digital game development.

SMU's digital gaming development program, called the Guildhall, is the first educational program developed from scratch with the help of professional gaming developers who already work in the industry.

The program provides students with the opportunity to "interact regularly with game development professionals and provide them an unmatched real-world experience, working in teams to make games and facing intense milestone deadlines throughout the process," as described on a SMU's Web site.

"The Guildhall deserves recognition for both its desire to educate and to place its students in the workforce," said Katherine Anna Kang of Fountainhead Entertainment, a Guildhall contributor.

Florida State University dedicated its QEP to leadership development among students. FSU attributed a focus on leadership development to societal changes including "globalization" and "technological development."

According to the FSU's QEP, "studies of leadership programs have found that engagement in leadership activities during college can have positive impacts on a wide range of student outcomes."

As of late, four students, the president of the graduate students' association and three undergraduate students are on Baylor's topic selection committee. Once the QEP topic is selected, more students will be invited to participate in the development phase of the program.

Interested students should e-mail Hogue regarding information about becoming part of the QEP development phase.

Hogue said freshmen and sophomores should see the program take shape by April 2007.