MSSU, SMSU sign agreement to start joint master’s classes

Nate Billings

In a response to the needs of the community, Missouri Southern and Southwest Missouri State University have entered into an educational partnership to offer a master’s in teacher’s education degree.

On March 25, representatives from both institutions signed a formal agreement to offer the degree.

The agreement will be endorsed by the commissioner of the Coordinating Board of Higher Education on Thursday.

“It’s two public universities working together to respond to the needs in the area,” said Dr. Richard McCallum, vice-president for academic affairs, “which makes it nice for the people locally.”

McCallum said both universities felt the need was great enough to warrant a joint effort to relieve the needs of the area. The opportunity to do so was created in Senate Bill 55, which gave Southern university status and the ability to enter into agreements with other institutions within Missouri to offer a graduate degree program.

Missouri Senator Gary Nodler was present at the agreement.

“It’s an exceptionally important program with Missouri Southern and a strategic partnership with SMSU,” Nodler said. “This clearly opens up doors.”

McCallum said the degree program courses would begin during the summer semester and are available for review in the new schedule books.

A total of 39 hours will be offered for the degree with Southern instructors teaching 19 hours and SMSU instructors teaching 20.

“It was as even as we could make it,” McCallum said. “We’re handling it like most of our curriculum.”

He said a good beginning would be 10 to 15 students start out in the program.

Nodler said he hopes students will take up the opportunity.

“When an education student embarks on this degree, they have the opportunity to go all the way,” he said.

Nodler said the more master’s programs available across the state and at Southern increase the chances for all students to develop academically.

“The identity of the University becomes clearer and clearer,” he said.

McCallum said the current agreement with Northwest State University is doing well and hopes the SMSU agreement will go just as smoothly.

Several faculty members are serving as advisors to the graduate students and McCallum said they are working hard to continue together.

There are two more degrees being considered through an agreement with University of Missouri Kansas City.

They are a master’s in nursing and dental hygiene.

“There is a strong educational need for these areas,” McCallum said.

The degrees are in the beginning stages, and McCallum said he did not know what would come afterward for Southern.

“It’s probably too soon to look beyond that,” he said.

The first students to graduate will do so in spring or summer of 2006.

For more information on the degrees and teacher education, contact Dr. Glenn Coltharp, head of teacher education, at 625-9308.