New FSU Director of Graduate Services Taking Office on Old Roads and New Highways
The new director of the Frostburg State University Office of Graduate Services, Patricia Coyle Spiker, will be following both established patterns and some new directions as she leads the office previously headed by Dr. Joseph F. Malak, new associate dean of the College of Education.
Spiker's appointment marks a return home in more than one way. The Allegany County native received her Master of Business Administration degree from FSU in 1984; she also served as assistant director of admissions at Frostburg State for four years in the late 1980s.
Her other higher education posts include coordinating transfer admissions and the extensive international admissions program at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., serving as director of admissions at Shenandoah and serving as an admissions counselor at Potomac State College in Keyser, W.Va.
For years, most of Frostburg State University's graduate programs have grown out of the needs of the immediate area, such as the master's degrees in education and business administration, she said. Increasingly, however, programs are emerging that are appealing to farther flung audiences, such as the new Master of Applied Computer Science and Master of Arts in Teaching.
She sees a lot of potential for growth in the MBA and computer science programs. They are filling needs of some cottage industries and small technology employers who have moved into the area.
Of course, education will always be strong, especially with the looming teacher shortage, as so many of the area's teachers reach retirement age.
The Master of Arts in Teaching offered at the FSU Hagerstown Center has had an overwhelming response. "It's surprising how many students commute from significant distances," she said. The program started its third year this fall.
And the Master of Science in Applied Computer Science, just completing its first full year, is drawing a lot of attention from afar, including international students.
The office continues in its role of "one-stop-shopping" for graduate students, she said, which allows them to be admitted and registered all in one stop. Many graduate schools require more running around, she said. Graduate services previously were paired with assessment, but that aspect of the office moved to the College of Education with Malak.
One feature of the FSU graduate program that Spiker would like to make more people aware of is the availability of quality graduate assistanceships for full-time grad students. Especially since the programs are set up to accommodate working people with evening classes, graduate assistants tend to have more daytime hours available for work in offices. One assistanceship provides a $5,000 stipend and 30 credits per year. Of the more than 900 FSU graduate students, last year 176 attended full time.
She says she enjoys working with graduate students, who tend to have a well-developed sense of where they want to go, and in the larger higher education atmosphere. "It's a positive environment. I can help them do something to look toward the future," Spiker said.
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