In a first for Fort Hays State University, an academic department has been reinvented as an "institute" to reflect its ambitious new role in providing higher education.
In a news conference today, Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, announced that the Department of Technology Studies was now officially the Institute of Applied Technology. He said the name change was approved by the Kansas Board of Regents at its December meeting.
Like the academic department it is replacing, the Institute will be housed in the College of Education and Technology. Teacher education has a long and proud history at FHSU, which was founded in 1902 as an auxiliary "normal school," which was the name at the time for a teacher's college.
The Institute concept will assume a much broader scope, including technical education collaborations with two-year institutions, corporate partnerships, partnerships in the international education market and the military, and expansion of traditional program offerings into the construction field and related applied technologies. Several of the new programs and course offerings will be offered online.
President Hammond said FHSU needed a distinctive identity for technology education, and the creation of the Institution was a perfect choice because the university had established a reputation across the globe for being entrepreneurial. "This is part of who we are and what we are known for," he emphasized.
"The Institute of Applied Technology will continue to function as an academic department in terms of having faculty who teach classes and students who earn degrees," the president explained. "But it will have a much more expansive role, with more course offerings online, partnerships with business and other educational institutions, and more activity in the international arena."
The president commended Kim Stewart, interim chair, and the faculty of the former Department of Technology Studies for their work in creating the Institute.
"The creation of the Institute was inspired in part by an initiative from Gov. Sam Brownback for high school students to receive incentives for careers in technical education," Stewart said. "There is effort in Kansas to encourage career and technical education pathways. Nationally, the ITEA, our teacher association, has added "E" to become the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, placing an emphasis on STEM education -- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. In Kansas, some schools offer the traditional labs and others are more oriented toward STEM education. At FHSU, we have a rich tradition in both and want to support both."
Stewart noted that technology is application and engineering is design either by analysis or process. "We do not determine how much load a beam will hold, but we do determine where it should be placed," he said by way of example. "The state's technical colleges and community colleges do a great job in teaching skills to students, but many of those students need an avenue to further their education. It's called stackable credentials. We can take them from the certificate they earn elsewhere into our associate's degree and to a bachelor's degree. We also add general education classes as part of the B.S. degree that equip them for management and leadership roles in business and industry."
He said part of the decision to create the Institute was in response to requests from the military, which asked for ways FHSU could take people with technical skills and "stack" other credentials. By taking courses and degrees online, students who are in the military or who are already working in business and industry will be able to improve their abilities without having to interrupt their careers.
The Institute will develop partnerships with technical colleges and community colleges to make the transition to FHSU easier for both online and on-campus classes.
"When people are making choices about where to finish a degree, we wanted to clearly identify an avenue," Stewart said. "We think the Institute approach provides that clarity. The Institute ties all the stackable credentials together. It is an identifier in tune with the times. It provides an umbrella for all the education possibilities in applied technology."