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Campus Senate discusses counseling program, pays tribute to late professor emerita

The Campus Senate is considering a resolution that would raise the minimum requirements for graduation from the Human Development Counseling program to 61 credit hours. The increase would allow the program to maintain accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

Although not required, graduation from a CACREP accredited program puts students on a “direct and expedited path towards licensure,” according to James Ermatinger, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

William Abler, Associate Professor Human Development Counseling, stated that for many students interested in counseling, finding a university with a CACREP accredited program is a deciding factor. “It represents quality and adherence to standards that are linked to licensure requirements,” he said.

John Martin, Associate Professor of Chemistry, suggested the Campus Senate should consider postponing a decision until the body has a better idea of what next year’s budget will look like. “I think in a universe of unlimited resources, this is a no brainer,” he said. “This is not a zero expense issue, so I think we need to carefully consider the expense. I think it’s incredibly difficult to do that not knowing what the change in revenue will be next year.”

The new accreditation standards require programs to offer greater depth and to reduce faculty-to-student ratios, according to Sharon LaFollette, Chair of the Graduate Council and Professor of Public Health. New resources may be required to meet these standards.

“This is an extremely assessment intensive program from the perspective of individual students,” LaFollette said. “The faculty have an extensive workload just in maintaining the day-to-day assessment of their students.”

Six faculty members in the program work with 125 students, each currently generating about 50 credit hours of classwork across three concentrations. In addition, faculty in HDC have other responsibilities, such as reviewing hours of practice counseling sessions conducted by students.

Despite uncertainty regarding next year’s budget, Holly Thompson, Associate Professor of Human Development Counseling, said, “That commitment to maintaining the accreditation standards was made a long time ago when we initially pursued accreditation.”

Abler agreed, saying, “Our backs are to the wall.”

Provost Lynn Pardie said that this professional area has seen steady increases in hiring, which means prospective students will continue to seek accredited programs, and those credit hours represent tuition dollars. “This is a very high functioning program. It represents the institution very well,” she said. “It’s one of those programs that links us really directly to our surrounding community.”

The Campus Senate will vote on the resolution in its next and final meeting of the semester on December 14.

Heather Dell, Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies, and others on the Senate paid tribute to the late Sandra Mills, Professor Emerita of Social Work. “Sandy was an incredible colleague,” Dell said. “She also did tremendous work for the State of Illinois. She was an active social worker who taught with a lot of energy.”

Mills was a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who joined UIS in 1994 as a visiting professor. She served on numerous campus committees, including the Graduate Council, Campus Senate, and the Higher Learning Commission task force.

“She was very energetic and really cared about her students but also managed to change things dramatically here in the state in working to secure more funding for childcare,” Dell said.

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