5. C. 5 Institutional planning anticipates emerging factors, such as technology, demographic shifts, and globalization.
From its founding to the present day, Miller College’s activities have been planned with forethought for emerging factors on a local and global level. Miller College was established in response to a call from the business and educational community of Calhoun County for an affordable, locally-based institution of higher learning at which residents of the Battle Creek area could complete bachelor’s degrees as well as receive continuing education, professional development and career retraining. Prior to the establishment of Miller College, higher education options for students and workers living in the Battle Creek area were limited to associate’s degree programs through Kellogg Community College and a small number of bachelor’s degree completion programs offered through extension sites by Michigan colleges based in other localities. However, few of these programs afforded students the opportunity to complete all of the coursework for a bachelor’s degree in Battle Creek, requiring that students commute to fulfill residency obligations at the respective institutions. As a consequence of this lack of a local avenue for completing bachelor’s degrees, the Battle Creek area has one of the lowest per capita rates of adults holding bachelor’s degrees or higher in the state of Michigan, according to US Census figures. Furthermore, the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research compiled statistics indicating that the Battle Creek metropolitan area had the lowest percentage of adults age 25 to 34 holding bachelor’s degrees in Michigan. As Michigan’s former Governor Jennifer Granholm first argued, increasing the number of college graduates is essential for Michigan’s economic recovery, and it is in the service of achieving this vision for Battle Creek that Miller College was founded.
As described in 5.C.3, Program Advisory Committees comprised of local leaders in the respective fields of study provide an ongoing realistic soundboard for ideas and the insight of informed individuals interacting on a daily basis with local, regional and even national socioeconomic trends. Advisory Committees regularly review current programs for their relevance to real world applications of their content, compliance with certification standards required in their respective fields, and degree of graduate preparation to face emerging trends. In accordance with the College Mission, all programs at Miller College are designed to prepare graduates who demonstrate competence in their fields of study, which includes preparation for advanced study or employment. External constituencies like the Advisory Committees inform Miller College faculty, staff and administration on what the work force needs and demands across fields. Through these discussions, needs and connections emerge. The program in the Binda School of Education regularly practices continuous improvement in response to real world needs. Education students placed in school buildings in the role of interns and observers constantly receive information that informs their future practice, which they share with Education faculty through formal reflective writing and discussion tasks embedded in their coursework. First-hand information on emerging trends in local schools relayed through interns and mentor teachers in the field informs curriculum revision throughout the program to better prepare candidates for the realities of a teaching job. Internships and clinical experiences in other schools at Miller College serve a similar recursive purpose: to expose students to the realities and future trends within their fields of study and to inform ongoing curriculum development to better prepare graduates to confront the challenges in their fields.
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