Editorial Pages

Last week Laura Seymour asked, in a letter to the Editor, whether there is an AU doctorate in the arts or psychology on the horizon. It’s a question I’ve heard several times. AU students want to stick with AU as long as they can, and those who want to pursue master’s or doctoral studies don’t want to have to switch to another school. Also, while distance education is certainly a boon to many an undergraduate student, it is arguably even more valuable for graduate students, many of whom are already working in their chosen field and who want to remain employed while furthering their studies.

I recall a few years ago hearing through the grapevine that AU was considering a doctorate in psychology, and their target market would be working psychologists with master’s degrees who wanted to upgrade their credentials. This plan was never confirmed, but it sounded promising!

As an undergraduate student nearing the end of my first degree, and with my eye on the MAIS program, I’m hoping that by the time I have my master’s there will be an AU opportunity for me to continue my studies.

In response to Laura’s recent inquiry, I did a little asking around and found out that there may be some good news. Dr. Mike Gismondi, Director for the Center for Integrated Studies, confirms that AU is in “the very early stages of exploring the feasibility of a doctoral program in Integrated Studies in the Arts.”

Cautious words, but nonetheless promising for those who are still in undergraduate studies and planning to enter a doctoral program several years from now. Unfortunately, the psychology department was unable to confirm any significant progress toward an AU Psychology doctorate, but it seems safe to say that as long as interest remains high, it’s always a possibility.

Another area I have been researching for The Voice, without much progress so far, is the status of the AU Alumni Relations program. Students may have noticed that the current alumni webpage has not been updated in a couple of years (it still lists AU World as an AU alumni publication, which it never was. It has not been published for at least two years), and the listed board members are nowhere to be found. There do not appear to be any current alumni programs, other than the sale of class rings and parchment frames. The big question is: where is the money?

Every one of you is paying two dollars with every course you take toward alumni relations. That amounts to nearly $100,000 a year. I have information, however, that in recent years that money has been diverted to pay for AU convocation — hardly an alumni-related expense.

I had intended to write an expose about the sad state of our alumni relations program, and the possible misuse of alumni funds. However, I have just found out that AU has taken charge of the situation and hired a full-time staff person to get the program back on track! I’m not certain if my intent to write a Voice article about the situation had any bearing on AU’s action on this issue, but I like to think so!

I won’t mention who the person in charge of the program is just yet, but hope to have a full report for you soon. The question still remains — what has happened to the money that was to be held for alumni relations over the past couple of years while the program was essentially dead? I hope to find that out as well.

Researching this has led me to examine the alumni programs of many other universities, and I’ve been impressed by the wide array of programs and resources they offer. Most also publish bi-yearly newsletters to keep in touch with alumni. I look forward to seeing how the current AU alumni program will be improved, and the many services that will await me when I graduate.

More information to come:

Tamra Ross Low
Editor in Chief