FHSU launches the only journal in the nation focused on state comprehensive universities
11/04/2009

Demonstrating its commitment to find innovative solutions for unmet needs, Fort Hays State University has published the first edition of a scholarly journal that will focus on a previously ignored segment of higher education.

"Teacher-Scholar: The Journal of the State Comprehensive University" becomes the only fully peer-reviewed publication for universities across the nation that are similar in composition and mission to FHSU. The journal is available both in print and online at www.fhsu.edu/teacher-scholar.

"I realize state comprehensive university is not a term that everyone would recognize, but it describes a tier of higher education that plays an essential role in the well-being of our nation," Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, said during a news conference this morning to announce the launch of the new journal. "Think of FHSU and you will have a good sense of the nature of a comprehensive state university. SCUs are state-funded universities where teaching is the top priority, where few if any Ph.D. programs are offered, where public access to education is emphasized and where service to a particular region is considered vital."

Dr. Larry Gould, FHSU provost, encouraged and supported creation of "Teacher-Scholar," and Dr. Steven Trout, professor of English, serves as editor. Dr. Hong Wang, director of Instructional Design and Course Support in the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning Technologies, oversaw creation of the online version of the journal, and Joshua Smith, a Wichita graduate student in Graphic Design, created the publication's unique design.

"Dr. Gould and Dr. Trout saw a need and stepped forward to meet that need," President Hammond said. "We believe our university should be engaged in the larger academic community, and it would be difficult to imagine a more meaningful place for engagement than with state comprehensive universities, which for too long have been the invisible workhorses of higher education."

Pointing to recent scholarship that criticizes higher education, Gould said it was clear the U.S. higher-education system was faced with daunting challenges and an array of new opportunities generated by global and economic changes, the quest for planetary survival, technological evolution, and the need to educate citizens for American democracy. "Unless higher-education institutions are willing to address the gap between historical deficiencies and current demands for more access, affordability, assessment and accountability, they face further scrutiny and criticism," Gould said. "There is a definite need to provide a 'forum' for exploring the role and potential influence of SCUs as key players in a world where education addresses an ever-growing array of societal challenges. 'Teacher-Scholar: The Journal of the State Comprehensive University' is intended to meet that need."

Although the American Association of State Colleges and Universities does a great job in Washington representing the 430 institutions that can be defined as SCUs, Gould said the time had come to give SCUs a public intellectual voice that both addresses higher education's current challenges and helps to shape the "college of 2020."

"The arrival of 'Teacher-Scholar' fills a breach in the literature on higher education institutions that has been left void far too long," he said.

As editor, Trout explained that the new journal would explore the history, present circumstances and possible future of America's hardest working but least studied institutions of higher learning. "SCUs are typically seen as less prestigious, but they play a vital role in the American academy, providing relatively low-cost instruction to millions of students and employing a sizable percentage of young Ph.D.s, most of whom leave their doctoral programs without any conception of what it will be like to work at institutions where faculty members are teachers and scholars, in that order," he said.

Trout said the new journal would delve into many questions: What are the benefits of working at an SCU? What kinds of challenges do the faculty and the administration face? How is the education provided by SCUs different from that offered by large research schools or private liberal arts colleges? How do students fare once they graduate from universities that supposedly lack prestige? How can technology best be utilized for teaching and learning at such schools? What is campus culture like at an SCU? What is the real role of research and scholarship at these institutions? What do interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching mean at an SCU? How does internationalization occur on these campuses? And, most crucial, what role and responsibilities does the SCU have in the reform of a world-respected system of higher education that is reshaping itself to deliver education in ways never before thought possible?

"These questions and more will be addressed in the pages of 'Teacher-Scholar,'" Trout said.

He also said the new journal also would provide the spark for a more intense examination of the role of SCUs right on the FHSU campus. Trout said faculty would meet in a forum on Thursday, Nov. 5, in the Trails Room of the FHSU Memorial Union to share their reactions to issues raised in the journal.

"I feel very proud to work on the 'Teacher-Scholar' journal with Dr. Steven Trout, the CTELT staff and my student worker, Tony Hu," Wang said. "Some special features of the online journal include the podcasts created to introduce the authors and their articles, a mouse-over function to display the references in the article, a floating window to show the headings and their hyperlinks within each article, and a capacity to submit the manuscript to the editor directly online through the 'Contact' link."

"Teacher-Scholar: The Journal of the State Comprehensive University" will be published annually both online and in hard copy and will be fully peer-reviewed. Peer review, which is also known as refereeing, is the process of subjecting articles to the scrutiny of experts in the same academic discipline. The process helps to ensure that research and writing meet accepted standards of the discipline.

The inaugural issue of "Teacher-Scholar" features a "Preface" by Provost Gould and the following articles:
• "Introduction: The Work of the People’s University" by Bruce Henderson, Western Carolina University 

• "Created in their Image: Academic Careers Molded (Mangled?) by State Comprehensive Universities" by Julia M. Gergits, Youngstown State University 

• "A Context for Extramural Funding at State Comprehensive Universities: Tilting at Windmills or Fighting the Good Fight?" by John Falconer, University of Nebraska-Kearney 

• "Building Bridges: What State Comprehensive Universities and Research Institutions Could Learn From One Another" by Donald E. Hall, West Virginia University

The editors invite contributions to the new journal from anyone interested in the influence and place of SCUs in the rethinking and revitalization of the American higher education system.


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