Schools of Excellence Redefine Mary Baldwin

December 18, 2009

Professor John Ong meets with a student
Mary Baldwin University is launching a new academic structure consisting of four Schools of Excellence. The new structure consolidates existing strengths and positions the college for program growth that takes advantage of faculty expertise and new areas of market opportunity.

President Pamela Fox announced the creation of the schools at the beginning of the 2009-2010 academic year, and by the summer of 2010 the structure will be fully implemented. In articulating the benefits, Fox cited the importance of finding the “sweet spot” where mission and market intersect for optimal growth and greatest academic quality.

Dr. Catharine O’Connell, vice president for academic affairs, notes that “the new structure creates effective synergy through bringing together the long tradition of excellent, student-centered education in the Residential College for Women; the personalized program and innovative delivery systems of the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs; and the focused disciplinary excellence of the growing graduate programs.”

Each of the four Schools of Excellence combines related undergraduate majors and minors with graduate and/or certificate programs to enhance classroom and community experiences. Students entering in the fall of 2010 will have a better understanding of the value of their Mary Baldwin education because their experience will be structured through an intentional emphasis on areas of programmatic excellence.

Professor Deeble works with a student in the science labThe schools structure makes explicit the connection between academic work and preparation for creative leadership in the 21st-century world. Recent graduate Robyn Stegman ’09 articulates the value of that integration “Mary Baldwin has instilled in me an innovative spirit. It also is one of the few colleges in the nation that connects global and civic engagement … we don’t realize how rare it is to have that insight,’ she said.

This reorganization will “connect theory and practice” and “make our strengths visible” to those outside the Mary Baldwin community, in the words of President Fox. In addition, it will make increased connections between varied programs and initiatives, helping faculty, students, and staff plan each individual student’s Mary Baldwin journey.

What’s in a school?
Steven Mosher, professor of Healthcare Administration and political science, has seen firsthand the benefit of strong community relationships for his classroom: “Guest speakers from Martha Jefferson Hospital, Augusta Health, and Rockingham Memorial Hospital have been very good to us. Top executives have come to campus with financial analyses of product lines. The business office director at Augusta Health walked students through the billing process of a patient as she enters the emergency room: this is what was done, this is what it costs, and this is the reimbursement. He showed a sample bill; the students were in awe.”

Creating experiences like that for all students is one goal of the new Schools structure. Existing offerings will, in time, be supplemented to ensure that all four schools contain the following by 2014:

Degree and certificate opportunities

  • Undergraduate majors and minors
  • Non-degree certificate programs (where appropriate)
  • Graduate and/or post-baccalaureate programs

Experiential components blending theory with practice

  • Civic engagement in a global context, with one Spencer Center Fellow representing each school
  • One or more regional or national programmatic partners (current examples include American Shakespeare Center, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, and local school systems)
  • One or more partnerships with national and international organizations of service to young women
  • Changemaker jobs and internships
  • Career planning services
  • Partnerships with alumnae/i and other volunteer leaders in the Mary Baldwin community

Strength in (smaller) numbers
“I think it’s important to know that you might not know exactly what your course in life will be when you come to college. College is a place to learn who you are, and the options and opportunities at Mary Baldwin truly allow you to do that,” says junior Kara Jenkins, a business major with minors in historic preservation and public history.

Mary Baldwin’s distinctiveness is — and has always been — its people. The Schools of Excellence highlight and encourage the interaction that will garner national attention. It is the kind of interaction that produces alumnae like Calissa Smith ’07, a forensic science graduate who will soon become the first female firearms examiner for the West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory.

“Dr. [Paul] Deeble is the one who suggested I go into forensics — it was a growing field and he thought I would be interested in it. I got an internship with the Staunton Police Department, and he set me up with Dr. [Paul] Callo for my senior research project on DNA analysis, so I would have more hands-on experience,” she said.

“We work hard with our students to bring out their individual strengths, ”echoed Professor of Art Paul Ryan. “Our advantage is, in fact, our relative smallness and the greater attention our students get.”

A brief overview of the four Schools

Arts, Humanities, and Renaissance Studies
Mary Baldwin has long been known for faculty excellence and exemplary programs in the arts and humanities disciplines. With the addition of the MLitt/MFA program in 2001 and the partnership with American Shakespeare Center, we added a new area of distinction. The School brings together our historic areas of strength with innovative new programs to position us well for the future.

Undergraduate majors and minors:
African-American Studies
Art (Studio): emphases in ceramics, drawing, painting, printmaking, photography
electronic art and design, extended media
Art History
Arts Management: concentrations in theatre, music, and art
Creative Writing
Film: emphases in film studies, film production
Historic Preservation
Music: emphases in music literature and history, music performance
Philosophy and Religion
Public History
Theatre: optional concentrations in acting/directing, theatre history/literature, and theatre practice
Women’s Studies

Graduate programs:
Master of Letters in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in Performance Master of Fine Arts

Five-year program:
BA/MLitt: combines BA in theatre with MLitt in Shakespeare

Education, Health, and Social Work
The programs in this School share a commitment to superior professional preparation. Mary Baldwin’s education program prepares teachers across the Commonwealth and has a well-deserved reputation for excellence. Healthcare Administration is a distinctive and well regarded program — one of only two fully certified programs in Virginia. Social Work is our newest professional program of distinction and has promise for significant growth.

Undergraduate majors and minors:
Civic Engagement
Clinical Laboratory Science
Healthcare Administration
Public Health
Social Work
Special Education
*Physical Education (courses will be taught through this school, but no major is offered)

Non-degree certificates:
Healthcare Management
Long-Term Care Administration
Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Licensure

Graduate programs:
Master of Arts in Teaching
Master of Education

Five-year program:
BA/MAT: combines BA with Master of Arts in Teaching

Social Sciences, Business, and Global Studies
The social science programs at Mary Baldwin prepare students for the 21st-century world, from our new Business for a Sustainable Future major to Asian studies with its excellent exchange opportunities. Well-established strengths in economics, political science, and sociology give the School a breadth of excellence.

Undergraduate majors and minors:
Asian Studies
Business for a Sustainable Future
Global Poverty and Development
Human Resource Management
International Economics and Business
International Relations
Latin American Studies
Leadership Studies
Marketing Communication
Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution
Political Science
Sexuality and Gender Studies
U.S. Poverty Analysis

Non-degree certificate offerings:
Sustainable Business Management
Human Resource Management
Leadership Studies
Marketing Communication

The School of Science brings together programs in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and psychology to reinforce mutual areas of emphasis and a common commitment to providing opportunities for intellectual exploration and experimental research. These programs have long been known for excellence in preparing students for graduate and professional study among other strengths.

Undergraduate majors and minors:
Biology: emphases in biomedical science, science education
Chemistry: emphases in materials chemistry and biochemistry
Computer Information Systems
Computer Science
Computer Science/Mathematics
Applied Mathematics
Psychology: emphases in child psychology, mental health work, and personnel work