American University’s School of Education will separate from the College of Arts and Sciences on July 1 following a resolution passed by the University’s Board of Trustees, according to a statement sent to the AU community by Provost Daniel Myers on June 7.
The School of Education will be independently funded and will be in charge of its own hiring, academic curriculum, allocation of resources and developing a new doctoral program.
“The stand-alone SOE will benefit from discipline-specific marketing and recruitment, budgeting and fundraising, and it will have the opportunity to become a nationally ranked school of education,” Myers said.
Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, the dean of SOE, hopes that this separation will encourage more students to pursue careers in education. The SOE currently offers a dual enrollment program, which allows high school seniors in Washington’s public schools to take education classes on AU’s campus. The program comes with a full scholarship, and if students later attend AU, they are guaranteed job placement within the District’s public schools.
“We are trying to increase the diversity of teachers in the area and college access,” Dean Holcomb-McCoy said. “I think this will set us apart and show our true commitment to the District of Columbia.”
Once the SOE becomes an independent school, Holcomb-McCoy plans to advocate for more scholarships, diverse faculty committed to community-based work and access to the resources needed for students to be successful. AU currently partners with three organizations to offer discounted master’s degree options to SOE students, alumni and staff.
Holcomb-McCoy said that more work is to be done to build the School of Education up to be a competitive and nationally-ranked program. Dean Holcomb-McCoy says her number one concern is being in competition with other education programs across the country who already have separate schools for education.
“We need the resources to be successful with our ideas,” Holcomb-McCoy said. “For us to be nationally ranked, we need to look a lot like our competitors. So we are building and getting ready for competing nationally.”
Dean Holcomb-McCoy said she is hopeful that the separation will help bring more awareness of AU’s education program to DCPS students. Students within SOE have also expressed concerns over the school’s marketing efforts to draw in students to a career in education before the split.
“Before the initial separation, the education program could not promote itself to students to gain more in its program,” said Student Government Vice President Mulan Burgess, who is a junior in the SOE. “When you look at any education classes offered, you either had students who were interested in the School of Education as a stepping stone for their career or students who were taking the courses because it fulfilled a general education requirement.”
Areas of study that students can pursue within the school include teacher education, special education, education policy and leadership and international education. The school is home to the Institute for Innovation in Education and the newly created Center for Postsecondary Readiness and Success. The school also launched two online master’s degree programs during the 2017-2018 academic year, and a new doctoral program will welcome its first students in fall 2019.
Burgess said he is happy to see the school’s separation.
“The American University Board of Trustees made the right call, and I’m proud to be a part of this new family that will be able to promote itself as an innovative School of Education that many current and prospective students will be eager to join,” Burgess said.