The university plans to expand its academic presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to offer “a high-quality Christian higher education to a larger demographic.” The university issued a press release Tuesday to announce the move.
Dr. Robert Rhodes, provost, said the location has yet to be determined, but the university is looking at high-population areas hoping to be in the middle of a growing area. The metroplex site will function as a base, allowing multiple online graduate programs to offer evening, weekend and short courses face-to-face, he said.
“When we think about a campus, we’re really talking about a location where you’re able to offer classes,” Rhodes said. “We’re looking at a variety of options in the metroplex, right now we’re focusing more on the north Dallas area.”
Rhodes said successful graduate programs on campus, such as occupational therapy and communication sciences, as well as the national demand for specific graduate programs prompted the decision to establish a larger presence in Dallas.
“We don’t have any more space to place people here in Abilene,” he said. “We have many more applications than we do slots. So, part of what we’ve tried to do for each of these programs, was to pick high-demand programs that have a lot of interest nationally and select a portfolio of programs that we know have a lot of interest in demand both online and face-to-face.”
In addition, Dr. Stephen Johnson, dean of the Graduate School, and Jay Goin, an ACU alum, have been recruited to lead the metroplex campus. Johnson will serve as vice president of academic affairs for ACU Dallas, and Goin will be executive vice president for ACU Dallas.
Rhodes said Johnson was a natural fit because of his involvement with ACU’s CitySquare program in downtown Dallas and his knowledge of graduate programs as the dean of the graduate school.
Goin, a consultant with more than 20 years of experience with online educational programs, was hired by the university to help launch the programs.
“I think it makes our university more recognizable to those in that market, but also expands our national presence as well,” Rhodes said. “I’m proud of what we have here, and I think being able to offer our programs to more people who don’t have access to our Abilene campus is a great move.”
This isn’t the first time ACU has sought to make inroads in the Dallas market. Rhodes said the university partnered with an institution in Dallas in the ’70s and ’80s, but with a different set of objectives the programs phased out.
Johnson said the university has worked with consulting firms like Helix Education, which offers research and advisory services, and Hanover, a global information services firm, to evaluate which programs would best fit ACU’s mission.
“They’re looking at sectors of the higher education market, like business, education, health professions, so on and so forth, and then they’re giving us data on what the most sought degrees are, and what the most degrees awarded are,” he said.
Johnson said the university already hired a person to lead the enrollment management team which began training last week. The recruiters and counselors are actively marketing several of the programs.
The offered programs will include the following:
– Master of Marriage and Family Therapy
– Certificate in Medical Family Therapy
– Master of Divinity/Master of Christian Ministry
– Dietetic Internship Program/Certificate
Additional programs are awaiting approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. They include:
– Master of Communication Sciences and Disorders
– Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership
One program, a Master’s of Business Administration, is awaiting faculty approval. The faculty decision will take place in the next few weeks, and if it passes, the program will be submitted for accreditation approval as well.
A Doctorate of Nursing Practice is in the research-and-proposal phase, and is proposed to launch in Fall 2016, according to the university’s release.
“These programs are designed to reach adult, non-traditional students that would not move to Abilene, but we could meet there where they are,” Johnson said. “We want to combine programs that equip people to succeed in their careers, the knowledge and skills to succeed in their careers, while partnering in God’s work to form them as people to understand their work as a calling or a vocation.”