Edited Version of September 9, 1998
EIIP Classroom Online Presentation
"The Bachelor of Science Degree Program
Emergency Administration and Management
Arkansas Tech University"
The original transcript of the September 9, 1998 online Virtual Classroom presentation is available on the EIIP Virtual Forum (http://www.emforum.org). The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each were deleted but content of discussions, questions, and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers from the presenter to questions by the audience are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.
Amy Sebring: On behalf of the EIIP, I am pleased to welcome you to a special event in our Classroom. Our topic today is the educational opportunities in emergency management from Arkansas Tech University.
Please hold all questions and comments until we get to the Q&A portion of the program about half past the hour. We will review the instructions at that time.
We will not be using any "slides" today, but I will point out that when you see the banner on the chat window that says Background Info, and you click on it, it will open a page that has additional material about Dr. Rollans and the emergency management program.
And now, it is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Mary Ann Rollans, Dean of the School of Community Education and Professional Development and Associate Professor of Education at Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, Arkansas.
Welcome Mary Ann and thank you for taking time to be with us today.
Mary Ann Rollans: Thank you for the invitation to participate in the Virtual Forum. I am very pleased to discuss the degree program offered by Arkansas Tech University in Emergency Administration and Management. Also, congratulations to the Virtual Forum on your first anniversary celebration.
It is always a pleasure for me to talk to interested parties about our program. We have had an overwhelming response to the program thanks in part to the endorsement by FEMA and the support we have received from Director James Lee Witt and Associate Director Kay Goss.
I would like to start by providing a brief account of how the program was initiated and what steps had to be taken prior to beginning the actual curriculum development process.
The program at TECH was begun as the result of a statement made by Kay Goss in a publication in which she stated that she was hoping to see a degree program in emergency management in every state.
Mary Anne Salmon, who was serving on our Board of Trustees at the time, saw the article and consulted with the University president, Dr. Robert Brown, concerning the feasibility of developing this type of degree at TECH.
Ms. Salmon noted that since the Director and Associate Director were both from Arkansas that it would be only fitting that Arkansas should have at least one university offering the baccalaureate degree and why shouldn't that university be Arkansas Tech University, the university located just across the river from James Lee Witt's home in Yell County.
These considerations began shortly after the first of the year in 1997. At that time, there was only one university in the United States offering a bachelor's degree in emergency administration and management, and that university was North Texas State in Denton.
The president asked the academic vice president, Dr. Larry Robinson, to further consider the opportunity and to determine if TECH could develop a quality degree program in emergency administration and management.
I was called in at this point in the process to research the type of curriculum we needed and to work with FEMA throughout the development phase. I do not have a background in emergency management, but I did have experience in developing curricula and since I was working with the academic vice president as the director of special projects, this assignment fell within my domain.
My first assignment was to visit extensively by telephone with Kay Goss and seek her direction on the best course to follow. She immediately set up a conference call with David Neal, the director of the program at North Texas State who shared information regarding their history, type of curricula they had developed and the progress of the program including placement of graduates over the past ten years. He offered to share his curriculum with me and sent me catalogs, syllabi, course descriptions, competencies and expected outcomes.
Kay also suggested that I talk with the Director of the Emergency Management program at St. Petersburg Junior College in Florida, George Buck, who was the former director of the Fire Science Academy at the Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
George shared the same type of information with me and also mentioned the success he was having in offering the courses through distance delivery, primarily web-based courses offered over the Internet.
I was most intrigued by this concept and instantly saw the potential in this type of delivery since many of the targeted students would be practicing emergency service providers.
I asked George if he would be willing to work with me after we had the program in place and perhaps put some of our courses in the web-based format. He said he would be glad to work with me in any way.
I truly appreciated this type of assistance since I needed to learn as much as possible about the career field and the emergency management discipline. Kay also set up a meeting in Washington, in her office, for me to visit with Dr. Wayne Blanchard, the Director of the Higher Education Project housed at the Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Wayne spent several hours with me explaining the curriculum model which was in place and the progress made to date in actual course development.
I left that meeting loaded down with materials including the complete instructor's guide for one of the completed courses. He also gave me a complete listing of all the colleges and universities offering from one course or a certificate to a complete degree program in any field related to emergency management. This listing also provided contact information for the director of each program, which was particularly helpful as I began designing our proposed program at TECH.
My next step was to visit with emergency service professionals at the state level as well as with directors and personnel at the county and municipal level to determine the level of interest among this potential market.
The responses from the surveys were most favorable. One of the most pervasive comments made on the surveys was in relation to whether credit would be given for previous training and work experience.
Most of the respondents had taken courses at the Emergency Management Institute both in residence as well as through independent study and many had numerous hours of training and stacks of certificates documenting competencies in specialized areas.
Giving credit for work experience and training was not a practice in place at TECH but I knew that one of the major benefits of the program would be having this component built into the curriculum structure.
From everything that I had studied and after reviewing the curriculum from other colleges and universities, I determined that the most practical approach would be to develop a multidisciplinary curriculum which would offer courses supporting as many of the competencies required of an emergency services professional.
Most of the courses in our curriculum are existing courses offered through other departments on campus. I worked with the heads of the respective departments and asked them to identify which courses they offered would most closely address the competency areas targeted.
From talking with those people in the various career areas, I noted that two distinct types of career paths were identified. The first path was based more on the psychological and social dimensions of coping with disaster--the human element and the other path was directed more toward environmental concerns--coping with mitigation and response to natural and man-made disasters. Thus, the TECH degree requires the student to select either the Sociological Option or the Environmental Option depending upon his or her primary interest or career aspirations. The student must complete 21 hours in one of the two options.
Since the degree is a management-based degree, the program 15 hours to be selected from a cross section of courses providing administrative competencies in areas such as organizational behavior, personnel management, speech and media relations, computer applications, statistics, and accounting.
The technical specialty core includes courses specifically addressing the technical competencies required of the discipline. These are the courses developed from the model designed by the Higher Education Project.
Since many of the courses were not developed, I utilized the outline and course description to develop syllabi for each course and sequenced the courses to coincide with the projected development schedule provided by the Emergency Management Institute.
At present, there are 18 hours required in the technical area and we have developed six courses to address this requirement with new courses being introduced as they are completed by the developers on contract with the Emergency Management Institute.
As with all degree programs, there is a required 37-hour block of general education courses required of all four-year degree programs.
The technical area also includes a 9-hour internship and a 15-hour practicum. These are courses which can be substituted with documentation of contact hours and competencies achieved and/observed.
Our program provides this option to those individuals who have a career history in emergency work and who have accumulated a vast amount of training throughout their career.
The option of providing experiential credit seems to be a very attractive feature of our program to the career professional who did not have any type of credential to support the hours of training and the vast amount of knowledge, skills, and abilities achieved throughout the person's emergency service career.
For those students coming into the program without experience in the field, they would simply be required to take an additional 15 hours of coursework approved by the advisor. The student would also participate in an internship experience involving field activities and participation in disaster drills and other types of disaster support
The Division of Radiation Control of the Arkansas Department of Health and the State Office of Emergency Services have already supervised two internships. An extensive list of sites which have requested interns is available to prospective student interns.
A complete listing of the curriculum outline and the courses required are available at our web site <http://commed.atu.edu>.
This curriculum design was approved in July 1997 by the Arkansas Coordinating Board for Higher Education, and the first majors were admitted into the program during the 1997 fall semester.
At the end of the first semester, there were 35 majors--a very good beginning since we had projected a total of 25 in our estimate provided to the State Board. By the end of the second semester of the program, Spring 1998, we had a total of 48 majors. With registration completed for the 1998 fall semester, we reported a total of 63 majors. As you can conclude from these figures, this is one of the fastest growing degree programs offered by TECH.
One of the reasons for this tremendous growth, is the flexibility built into the scheduling and course sequencing. Three courses were developed for the Internet by Dr. George Buck who is now serving as an adjunct faculty on our staff. The Internet courses have attracted interest from emergency service professionals from around the country.
Another venture which proved to be quite successful this past summer was the delivery of a 5-day symposium featuring 10 speakers noted for their expertise who presented in half-day blocks. The keynote presenter was Associate Director Kay Goss. The symposium was offered for credit for the course, Principles and Practice of Disaster Relief and Recovery.
The symposium was professionally produced and was offered without charge as a satellite uplink to any site which could downlink the program. The symposium was also available on the Internet.
Anyone who wished to receive academic credit could apply and enroll electronically through an online service provided by TECH. This course is also available as a distance delivered course since it is available on videotape.
In summary, I have tried to give you as thorough a look at our program as I could in this brief period and in this format. I hope you will check out our web site for more information on the program. The Internet courses are also available for your review at the site <http:/commed.atu.edu>.
Thank you for staying with me through this discussion. I would be happy to entertain any questions or observations that anyone may have.
Amy Sebring: We would like to take a moment here to review how we will handle the Q&A so that we have an orderly session.
We ask that you indicate that you have a question by typing just a question mark (?). Then you can prepare your question, but PLEASE HOLD (don't hit end or send) your question until you are recognized. If we run out of time, you will have a chance to ask afterward in the follow up session in the Virtual Forum. Any questions for Dr. Rollans?
Amy Sebring: I have a couple. Is there any minimum residency required? That is, does a student have to earn a minimum number of credits at TECH to be awarded a degree?
Mary Ann Rollans: Concerning residency. The last 30 hours of the degree must completed in residence but the Internet courses and other distance delivered courses are considered to be taken in residence as opposed to transfer.
Mary Ann Rollans: Does that address your question?
Amy Sebring: Yes, Mary Ann, thank you.
Avagene Moore: I think Amy may have a problem. If anyone has a question, please indicate with a question mark ? and wait to be identified before submitting your question.
First of all, Today I am proud to have with me, members of the Emergency Systems Management Advisory Committee for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. We are here to structure a program similar to yours for the Southeast.
Mary Ann Rollans: What an impressive group!
Avagene Moore: Have you had any graduates yet? What type of jobs are awaiting degree emergency managers?
Mary Ann Rollans: Because so many of our current students are working career professionals, they have come into the program with experiential credit and with the internship waived they have completed the necessary requirements for graduation for December 1998.
We will have four graduates go through the line in December and I am very pleased with the hard work they have put into their program. And two of these already have jobs; in fact, were hired this summer and I am going to send their remaining courses through videotape and Internet.
Sue Painter: Hi! Is it Mary Ann's experience that most degree candidates are already working in the EM field? Or are they looking to start a career?
Mary Ann Rollans: Our current students include about 75% involved in careers and the remainder have no experience in EM. Many have transferred from other majors.
Sue Painter: That's interesting. I wonder if the "new ones" will go to government or private industry to work?
Mary Ann Rollans: We are currently offering a course --- Crisis Management in Business and Industry. And we have a number of people from area industries address the class. They have given the students who had previously only seen opportunities in government a new perspective for career options.
Amy Sebring: What kind of marketing effort have you made for the program, and is this important?
Mary Ann Rollans: We have not launched a major marketing effort because the program seems to have a life of its own through the FEMA web page and the EIIP involvement. We are now beginning to recruit at high schools and speak to junior high students. And they are so interested!
Avagene Moore: What type of marketing campaign are you considering? This is of interest to the UTC Advisory committee.
Mary Ann Rollans: We have produced a professional video that we are going to put on CD-ROM and utilize as a promotional tool. We conducted a symposium this summer and had Kay Goss as the featured presenter. She supported the video by making statements about the degree and career opportunities. Also, the students were interviewed and commented about the depth of the courses and the relevance to the EM profession.
We will use this video when we make presentations to EM conferences across the country. I have already made presentations to several state conferences and received numerous requests for information afterwards.
Amy Sebring: Do you also have to recruit instructors?
Mary Ann Rollans: The instructors to date have come from the "field". Yes, I would like to have some FT faculty but the program must grow a little more. I am also looking at the need for a full time director since I am also directing 4 other degree programs.
Avagene Moore: Who do you target for the CD-ROM and the symposium?
Larry: I give a presentation twice a year on Business Continuation and Disaster Recovery at a local Collage. Most students are very surprised about companies having anything in place for disasters. Most want to find out more about the field of Emergency Management.
Mary Ann Rollans: Avagene, the target audience will be both practicing professionals as well as freshmen and returning adults looking for a new or different career.
Amy Sebring: Do you have different tuition for in-state vs. out-of- state students?
Mary Ann Rollans: The tuition for out-of-state is twice the cost of in-state tuition.
Avagene Moore: What is the cost?
Mary Ann Rollans: Our tuition for in-state tuition is $96 per credit hour and there is no additional charge for distance courses.
Avagene Moore: Can the CD ROM be ordered from you?
Mary Ann Rollans: The CD or video will probably be distributed free of charge since it will serve as a recruiting tool for our program.
Amy Sebring: Do you expect to add more online courses in the future?
Mary Ann Rollans: Amy, concerning your question about online courses. We have three online at present. And we plan to have two more online by spring semester. These can be accessed through our web site <http://commed.atu.edu> and registration can be completed online also with payment by credit card, if so desired.
Avagene Moore: How do interested parties get a copy of the CD?
Mary Ann Rollans: Anyone wanting the video may contact me. It is still in production at present but should be ready in a few weeks.
Isabel McCurdy: Scholarships for in-state and out-of-state?
Mary Ann Rollans: Isabel, concerning your question about scholarships. We are working with some private chemical companies and other vendors who do business with emergency partners in trying to get their support for some scholarships.
Terry Storer: Do you offer courses in the "Grant" process, the "nuts & bolts" of the procedure?
Mary Ann Rollans: Terry, are you referring to securing grants? And the procedure for developing proposals?
Terry Storer: Yes, the complete procedure, from researching availability to the actual preparation of the proposal.
Mary Ann Rollans: Terry, the major does not include this focus, but the technical writing and administration courses include proposal tips.
Amy Sebring: Can completion of the online courses be applied toward the degree program?
Mary Ann Rollans: Amy, the online courses are considered to be "regular" courses and apply to the degree. All the technical courses may be taken online or by video.
Avagene Moore: What type of support systems do you offer in the construction of your online courses for faculty who are used to classroom type teaching?
Mary Ann Rollans: Avagene, we have a Virtual Learning Center on campus and we offer training for faculty in the development of web-based courses and the use of interactive instructional methods. The campus has online courses in almost every major.
Amy Sebring: Mary Ann, could you describe a little more the two different concentrations?
Mary Ann Rollans: Yes. The sociological option is more attractive to those students who are "people-oriented. Courses such as the psychology of death and dying, criminal justice emphasis, and other volunteer support emphasis. The environmental option is targeted for the fire fighters, hurricane followers, etc.
Avagene Moore: Please submit your question now; we are nearing the end of our time in the Virtual Classroom.
Larry: Mary Ann - Would the courses that I have completed with FEMA and other agencies count toward the degree?
Mary Ann Rollans: Larry, yes, I provide credit for the FEMA courses. The 15-hour practicum is the umbrella for providing credit for previous training and experience.
Avagene Moore: CEU or academic, Mary Ann?
Mary Ann Rollans: Academic credit toward the degree.
Larry: Mary Ann - One more question - I work with not only the people side but environmental side. Which way would I need to go to get a degree?
Amy Sebring: If we have no more questions.
Mary Ann Rollans: I would add that our complete curriculum is on our web site as I listed previously. Please take a look at it and let me know if I can help.
Isabel McCurdy: Email, Mary Ann?
Mary Ann Rollans: <email@example.com>
Cindy Rice: Mary Ann, address http:?
Mary Ann Rollans: <http://commed.atu.edu>
Amy Sebring: I would like to once again thank Mary Ann for her time today. Avagene, please let us know about what's coming up.
Avagene Moore: Mary Ann, good job for us today. Especially interesting since I am in a committee meeting where we are wrestling with some of the same things. Thanks to our audience also.
Coming up in future sessions:
Tomorrow night, 8 PM EDT, we will be in the Mutual Aid session planning our WEBEX hazmat exercise on Nov 5. Will be planning tomorrow night once again.
Next week, we will have a Round Table discussion on Tuesday at 1 PM EDT. Michel Milot, Industry Canada presenting.
Wednesday, Noon EDT, we hope to have a 'live from' session with DRJ conference. TBD.
Thanks to our audience today. Again, thanks for your effort and great info today, Mary Ann!
Mary Ann Rollans: My pleasure!