June 15, 2011 – Some good news has Fort Valley State University faculty dancing in the halls of the Horace Mann Bond Building. Dr. Fred van Hartsveldt, chair of the Department of History, Geography, Political Science and Criminal Justice, received approval from the Board of Regents to move forward in offering a master’s degree program in history. The program offers three concentration tracks: general history (available for public school teachers), African-American history and military history. There will also be thesis and non-thesis options for applicants.
“I’ve seen friends’ and colleagues’ faces light up after I told them the great news,” said the history chair. The new track is already generating excitement among faculty and students. Seven new applicants have applied or expressed interest.
“The Master of Arts degree program in history is expected to provide a significant recruitment boost to the university,” said Dr. Julius Scipio, vice president of academic affairs. “This is the first of what we hope to be many graduate programs in the liberal arts to provide students with options that will not require them to leave FVSU. We want to keep our good students here.”
Dr. Keith Murphy, interim dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, said that the program is a sign of positive change at the university. “It’s the kind of graduate program that we don’t have enough of at FVSU, one in the humanities,” he stated. “I expect this to be a very popular program. Non-traditional students will be interested in it, individuals currently teaching junior high school, and others seeking a solid graduate degree in history.”
Two years ago, a six-member committee (that included history faculty Drs. Mark Smith, Christine Lutz, Dawn Herd-Clark, Peter Dumbuya and Vann Newkirk) rolled up their sleeves and began the task of developing new courses for graduate level students.The group consulted with FVSU’s director of library services, Dr. Annie Payton, to provide an updated list of library resources (technology, new books and databases). The facility’s database offerings—recently upgraded through a $2 million College Cost Reduction and Access Act grant awarded in 2008—helped make the case for minimal startup costs.
Van Hartsveldt says that although there will be online components of the new program; there are no full e-courses for graduate students. “There will be web-assisted courses for graduate students living in fairly rural areas,” he said.
“As a historian, I am especially pleased that my alma mater is moving into graduate programs in history,” said FVSU president, Dr. Larry E. Rivers. “It is particularly important that this program will specialize in African-American history, a key subject area missing from most graduate degree programs offered in our region. My sincere congratulations to Dr. Fred van Hartesveldt and to his distinguished colleagues for designing and implementing this exciting innovation for our university.”
For more information or to enroll in the program, call the social sciences department at (478) 825-6230.
Christina D. Milton, editorial assistant
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