Board approves new School of Public Policy and Civic Leadership, physician assistant degree among other initiatives

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Osman Fountain

Lipscomb University’s board of trustees approved a number of new programs and initiatives at its August board meeting, held in Nashville on Aug. 1.

A new School of Public Policy and Civic Leadership, a competency-based education program and a physician assistant degree are among the initiatives that have been approved.

“At Lipscomb University, we analyze workforce needs and develop programs that will help meet those needs,” said L. Randolph Lowry, Lipscomb University president. “That helps not only our community by filling those essential needs, but also helps our students pursue careers that are highly sought-after when they enter the job market. We continually look at innovative ways to deliver a college education and for new programs that help prepare our students for their careers.”

The School of Public Policy and Civic Leadership will offer a master’s degree in public policy with areas of emphasis including conflict management and collaboration as well as health care, education, environmental  and public health policies.

“This combines several outstanding areas of our work in critical civic leadership and conflict management to create the only public policy school in that nation that is an accelerated master’s based on an experiential approach to learning with great depth in the application of conflict management and collaborative problem solving skills,” W. Craig Bledsoe, Lipscomb provost, said. “Our goal is to graduate outstanding public servants with hands-on leadership and management skills that can bring transformative work to the public sector which is, unfortunately at the national level these days, all too often seen as dysfunctional.”

The school will also be an incubator for innovative policy and ideas as well as a place for conversations of significance, debates, conferences and other activity for its students and the community.

Lipscomb University’s innovative competency-based education program, which has been tested extensively over the past two years, provides a platform for the university to customize degree programs based on corporate and workforce development needs. The program is offered through Lipscomb’s CORE (Customized, Outcome-based, Relevant Evaluation) Competency Assessment and Development Center. It is tied to the nationally recognized Polaris® competency assessment model that has been used by organizations such as Nike, Wendy’s International Inc. and AT&T. Students can earn up to 30 credits, following a rigorous behavioral assessment, saving them thousands of dollars in tuition money. To date, 24 university faculty members, most of whom hold a doctoral degree, have been trained as certified behavioral assessors, and 100 individuals have gone through the assessment center. Lipscomb’s program, which is already seen as a leader and innovator in this area among liberal arts institutions nationally, recently became the first to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is one of only a few of its kind in the nation.

Lipscomb’s board also approved the formation of two new colleges bringing the number of the colleges at the university to nine: the College of Entertainment and the Arts and the College of Computing and Information Technology.  Both colleges bring together strengths that are already a part of the university and stage them for significant expansion. The College of Entertainment and the Arts will combine the university’s classical art, music and theatre studies with its film program and expand programs to prepare students for careers in digital entertainment, film, design, gaming and animation. The College of Computing and Information Technology brings together the university’s computing, informatics and information security programs – which have doubled in the last three years – and grows them with collaborations in business and several other programs.

In January 2016, Lipscomb will launch a physician assistant program that will offer a 27-month master’s degree which includes a 15-month clinical rotation. This aligns the university’s commitment to preparing students for health care professions with marketplace demand for physician assistants and nurse practitioners that has grown by more than 300 percent nationally in the last three years.

Lipscomb University, located in Nashville, Tenn., delivers a complete liberal arts education characterized by an integration of Christian faith and practice with academic excellence, preparing each student spiritually, intellectually, socially and physically for life and eternity. Lipscomb’s innovative curriculum and graduation requirements challenge students academically, spiritually and in their role as global community citizens. 

Students at Lipscomb University can earn a bachelor’s degree in 145 fields of undergraduate study, several pre-professional programs and an accelerated adult degree program for those who wish to complete their undergraduate degrees in the evening. Lipscomb also offers 32 graduate degrees and 21 graduate certificates or endorsement programs in 58 fields of study, including doctorate degrees in pharmacy, education and ministry. 

Founded in 1891, Lipscomb University has grown into a consistently top-ranked university with more than 4,500 students enrolled. It also includes a pre-kindergarten through grade 12 campus school, with an enrollment of more than 1,300.