On behalf of Dean Kathryn Boor of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, please find additional information regarding the recent MAT decision below.
Since late fall, when we in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University announced our decision regarding MAT reaccreditation, I have heard some concerns and confusion regarding this change. With an appreciation for the wide reach of this community, I am writing to clarify our decision and to reassure you of CALS’ continuing commitment to providing educational opportunities to students with interests in agriculture.
As you may recall, CALS announced the closing of the Department of Education in 2010. That decision was finalized after considering an extensive review of options, in the context of CALS efforts to achieve Cornell’s and CALS’ long-term strategic planning objectives. At that time, education faculty were relocated to other departments. However, since then, three education professors have left, two of whom were part of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program.
This past summer, I, along with Senior Associate Dean Max Pfeffer, met with remaining education faculty, including Professor Travis Park, to address the pending reaccreditation process, as the current accreditation ends in December 2013. Education professors were not confident the program could be reaccredited without replacement, and potentially new, faculty positions. Given the extensive review process that led to the decision to close the department, the college will not commit new faculty lines to the program. As a result of those discussions, CALS leadership and the education faculty decided not to pursue reaccreditation.
However, our decision regarding reaccreditation does not reflect a move away from agricultural education opportunities by CALS. While the end of the MAT program at Cornell University does change how students can receive their certification, the college continues to offer robust opportunities to our students and to New York State. Those include:
• We will continue to offer the education minor and several majors with direct links to agriculture and education, including Agricultural Sciences, International Agriculture and Rural Development, Applied Economics and Management with a focus on Agribusiness Management, and Animal Science.
• We have developed an articulation agreement with Ithaca College (IC) for their MAT program. Cornell students minoring in education will have a direct path to the IC MAT program. Professor Park will be directly engaged with the IC program’s development.
• IC is currently exploring the expansion of their teacher certification opportunities to include agricultural sciences, earth science, physics, chemistry, and biology, in addition to the humanities and social sciences concentrations already offered at IC. Students completing the CALS education minor could also pursue an MAT through other campuses of the SUNY system, including Oswego.
• CALS has provided Professor Park with financial resources to further support his efforts to work with FFA and agriculture education outreach programs–including Ag In the Classroom, as the college recognizes the vital importance of these initiatives. Those resources will also serve to reinforce Professor Park’s research on agricultural education.
Further, we will continue to direct effort and resources towards recruiting undergraduate students who come from an agricultural family, particularly those from New York, as part of fulfilling our land-grant mission. Those considerations extend to both first-year and transfer applicants. Materials from FFA members are noted in the admissions process, and members of our admissions team attend regional and national FFA conferences and events.
As you know, students from agricultural backgrounds enroll in the broad spectrum of CALS majors and minors. I appreciate that changes to the prior path can cause worry and frustration. I am fully confident that this evolution offers the most sound way forward as CALS strives to fully achieve its mission of teaching, research, and extension.
Posted by Bill Waite