Anderson University is doing a lot in a short span to meet the needs and wants of the times.
The addition of an engineering program, along with new courses and other changes, is a part of the ongoing revitalization efforts in AU’s Strategic Plan, intended to strengthen academics, said Director of Communications Chris Williams.
University President James Edwards said the changes have a lot to do with the market, and that “healthy higher education programs cannot stand still.”
“We’re trying to respond to changes we see in demand and interest,” he said.
What’s possibly the most exciting of all changes is AU’s “new venture” into the field of engineering, Edwards said, with the addition of an entire program containing civil, mechanical, electrical and computer engineering along with a complementary major in chemical engineering.
The university is working with the Higher Learning Commission to get the program started. With pending HLC approval, Edwards said projection to begin offering the program is fall of 2013.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is a vastly growing field in the U.S., oftentimes with higher pay.
“It (the program) really grew out of faculty assessments in their own ability and the need in our area,” Edwards said.
Edwards added that the change won’t take away from the many students who come in wanting to enter service fields like social work, ministry and teaching — all traditionally lower paying fields, but will attract more strong students interested in STEM.
He said there is more of a concern for vocation potential these days, and that engineering is the third highest interest area in potential AU students.
Williams said that the program is being designed to achieve accreditation by the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology.
“It opens up a lot of exciting possibilities for the university,” he said. “It’s something AU has considered and evaluated for quite some time.”
He also said AU will be one of only a few schools in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) in Indiana and nationwide to offer the full engineering degree.
Edwards said they plan to use marketing and summer camps to attract students to the new program as they build up its reputation. Once on campus, it’s really the faculty who will be the attraction, he added.
“Engineering is the most aggressive and promising academic addition we’ve made in my 22 years (at AU),” he said.
During the 2012-13 academic year, AU will also begin a transition to a new model for adult studies. Edwards said they will emphasize traditional classes and nontraditional students will no longer be separated from other students. It’s to provide more options as all degrees open to them. And adults get a discount. Those 25 and older have a fourth of the costs, Edwards said.
More immediate changes beginning in the 2012-13 academic year:
- The School of Music will become the School of Music, Theatre and Dance with a new major in musical theater allowing students to combine the three areas.
- The School of Education will discontinue the Master of Education program (current students will not be affected).
- The Falls School of Business will introduce three new concentrations: sports marketing, event planning and forensic accounting.
Edwards said the focus has been switched to the undergraduate education degree because of changes in teacher education, such as an emphasis on test scores rather than the education of a teacher.
While teachers in the past have been bumped up quickly in pay because of a higher degree, that’s often not the case anymore, he said. There’s a low incentive to get a masters degree because of the costs and economy.
Edwards said the Fall School of Business is just so responsive that student interest led to sports marketing and added that forensic accounting is an advanced approach.
So, with all these changes, can students expect tuition increases?
“AU has had the lowest tuition increases in the past few years and I don’t see a change in that,” Edwards said.
Actually, he expects AU to bring in more students.
—Dani Palmer is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.