State Board of Education accredits Fairfield University graduate program for another five years


The State Board of Education has accredited Fairfield University's Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions for another five years for the preparation of undergraduate and graduate students as teachers, library media specialists, school counselors and school psychologists.

In a letter from Dr. Theodore Sergei, state commissioner of education, Fairfield was informed that seven of the programs in the graduate school were approved "with distinction." Cited for special commendation were:

1) the program for the teachers of English as a second language, bilingual education, special education, school media, and school guidance.

2) the preparation of education students to work effectively with culturally diverse populations.

3) the involvement of a broad representation of constituencies such as the faculty, students, graduates and community representatives in planning and implementation.

4) the efforts to recruit under-represented minority faculty and students. The State Department report noted in particular that support is given to Bridgeport students for summer programs to introduce them to campus life and that scholarship money is available to multicultural students.

5) an affirmative action plan that is implemented, monitored and evaluated for recruiting minority faculty and students.

6) the library collection of resources for use by faculty and students and availability to the faculty and their classes of technology from the University's Media Center and computer labs. The State Department's evaluation commented, "The promotion of technology at Fairfield University is highly remarkable and is supported completely by the University in its budgets and actions."

7) In regard to educational technology, students have access to an outstanding media center and computer labs and technology is integrated within the curriculum. "All faculty have computers, computer training and access to the Internet through the University's mainframe and the university gives each faculty member a new computer every three years."

Dr. Hilary Freedman, coordinator of approvals for teacher preparation programs, explained that 15 independent and state universities in Connecticut offer graduate education programs. While "some" have also received five-year accreditation, the areas recognized with distinction at Fairfield "could be used as models by other institutions that prepare teachers and counselors."

Welcoming the renewed accreditation, Dr. Antonio Simoes, dean of the Graduate School of Education, said the findings reaffirm the strength of the University in preparing teachers, counselors and psychologists who have received degrees and certificates of advanced study from Fairfield and are now serving throughout Connecticut and in other states. "Our graduates have distinguished themselves in the classroom and in administrative posts as principals, superintendents and even state commissioner, as well as in key assignments with the U.S. Department of Education."

Fairfield University has conducted graduate classes in education since 1950, eight years after the founding of the University. The University's Department of Education became a distinct graduate school in 1963 and today has an enrollment of more than 600 students. In addition, education courses are offered as a minor for undergraduate students.

The accreditation follows an intensive scrutiny in February by an eight-member visiting team that included Dr. Freedman, and two other representatives of the State Department of Education, three administrators from Connecticut school systems and professors from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and from Eastern Connecticut State University.

As part of its orientation at the University, the team viewed "If These Stones Could Speak," the award-winning video depicting the University's history, developed by the Media Center and the Rev. Joseph MacDonnell, S.J. The final report said the video "helped the committee focus on the University and its development."

Among their other general impressions of Fairfield, the team found the University extremely supportive of the teacher preparation program; the program is valued by the participants and by the schools that receive these students as apprentices; the technology services are truly remarkable.

They also reported the academic preparation of students appears excellent; adjunct faculty identify closely with the university and express a strong feeling of inclusion; that class sizes are excellent, for the most part; faculty are accessible to their students; and there is a clear commitment to celebrating cultural diversity.

The team also found that the linkages between the faculty and others are informal and "person" dependent. It recommended that an official organizational structure be formalized while continuing to foster good communication.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on June 1, 1997