Drs. Richard Butt and Rick Mrazek, Faculty of Education Legacy archive (2008).
Between 2008-2019 the Faculty of Education published an annual print magazine called, Legacy. This publication celebrated faculty and their research, alumni, students (both undergrad and grad), programs and initiatives, and partnerships in the field.
As we go through the process of digitizing the Legacy collection, we would like to revisit and share some of these stories and faculty history with you.
The Faculty of Education has never followed in the footsteps of others—this is particularly the case in graduate studies and research.
In 1984, the Faculty of Education introduced the University of Lethbridge's first master's degree, the Master's of Education, and paved the way in graduate programming at the U of L.
Nearly 25 years later, the program is recognized on the international stage—accolades Dr. Rick Mrazek (BSc/BEd '78), outgoing assistant dean, graduate studies and resaerch, attributes to the "diversity of the strengths of faculty members and the research they are engaged in."
This summer Mrazek turned the leadership of the graduate studies and research office over to Dr. Richard Butt, who was appointed assistant dean in July 2008.
It's a familiar place for Butt, who came to the U of L in the early '80s when he was hired to implement the MEd degree.
In those early days, Butt explains, students were offered a general degree and face-to-face delivery of instruction, mostly on campus. Although the program has grown considerably in terms of students, program offerings, delivery methods and locations, its focus—to develop master teachers—has remained.
By 1999, the program had grown from 29 part-time students to more than 250 students. This year also proved to be a significant turning point in the program with the addition of a specialization in counselling and a new cohort teaching approach. This approach allowed students to negotiate electives and methods of delivery, making the program very student, work, and family friendly.
We have seen great success with the cohort approach. It has imporved the quality and rate of learning, while its flexibility allows us to rapidly develop and respond to any important initiatvies that arise," says Butt.
In 2002, graduate studies and research were combined into one office, and Mrazek was appointed assistant dean.
"Our goals were to ensure that faculty members continued to give students individual guidance, and to better-align research orientation between faculty and students," explains Mrazek. "We also wanted to acknowledge the diversity of that research and provide a support structure to enhance all research."
The faculty accomplished these goals and soon became recognized provincially, nationally, and internationally for its research excellence. "This recognition had a positive effect not only on faculty members but on the reputation of our graduates in the work world," says Mrazek.
To continue to advance its research record and ensure students receive the highest quality teaching, the faculty has since hired a research officer, increased funding for professional development and technology, and increased the number of student assistantships.
With its sights set on the path ahead, the faculty continued to implement new initiatives and provided opportunities for students, including a specializaton in educational leadership and a Master of Counselling Psychology program provided in collaboration with Campus Alberta Applied Psychology (CAAP).
Today the Master of Education program boasts a 97 per cent retention rate, which is nearly unheard of across the country. It's a success rate Butt says the program's balance of theory and practice, as well as the support and individual attention students receive, play a significant role in achieving.
"In the recently completed MEd review, our programs were rated very highly for overall quality, which is very gratifying," says Butt. "Our aim is to send graduates forward in a position of strength, ready to take on new challenges. I am confident that we were achieving that."
Article first published in the Faculty of Education Legacy 2008.
For more information please contact:
Dean's Office • Faculty of Education
University of Lethbridge
Learn more about the Faculty of Education: Legacy Magazine (2008-2019)
Twitter: @ULethbridgeEdu Website: uleth.ca/education
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