3.4.2 Continuing Education/Service Programs

The institution's continuing education, outreach, and service programs are consistent with the institution's mission.

Judgment of Compliance

PVAMU SACS Accreditation - Judgement Compliance

Narrative of Compliance

In its mission, Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) is dedicated to excellence in teaching, research, and service. It is committed to achieving relevance in each component of its mission [1] by addressing issues and proposing solutions through programs and services designed to respond to the needs and aspirations of individuals, families, organizations, agencies, schools, and communities--both rural and urban.
PVAMU works to accomplish these services in multiple ways. In 2004, for instance, the University made a commitment to enhance the service and outreach component of its mission. This was accomplished by developing an Office of Institutional Relations and Public Service designed to link entities within the University with local, state and national agencies and foundations; to maximize the use of resources appropriate for improving health, education, socioeconomic and cultural wellbeing of citizens of Texas [2]. The responsibilities of this new Office included Governmental Affairs, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action and University Relations. In addition, the Office was expected to coordinate and plan the delivery of programs and services, including but not limited to service-learning, multicultural affairs, and community development.  Although PVAMU does not have an office of continuing education or traditional continuing education classes, the outreach and service programs are integral to the university’s mission.  The programs for continuing education, outreach, and service are aligned with the mission of Prairie View A&M University.

Continuing Education
In 2004, the Office of Institutional Relations and Public Service established a committee [3] to further institutional efforts. Dr. Linda Glessner, Director of Continuing Education and Professional Studies at Texas A&M University, was asked to assist the committee in its efforts to formalize a continuing education program. In January 2006 she conducted a Continuing Education workshop for members of the committee which resulted in two important documents: her observations on what the institution needed strengthen its continuing education program [4] and a strategic plan for the Office for Professional Studies and Life Long Learning [5]. The committee has used the information from these documents to direct its progress, keeping in mind Glessner's suggestion regarding branding and images being "in alignment with the overall university mission of teaching, research, and service" [4]. The goals, mission, and names of the Continuing Education Committee members are updated and listed on its website [6].

Since its inception, the Continuing Education Committee has had the responsibility of developing a continuing education program at PVAMU. The Committee’s goals include: compiling an inventory of continuing education courses currently being offered at the University; developing a strategic plan for continuing education at the University; developing a continuing education committee (CE) with a representative from each college; identifying a cadre of faculty and staff qualified to teach CE courses; and implementing continuing education programs to include students, community members, and professional and business partners.

The committee recommended and the University administration approved and funded the position of Assistant Vice President for Continuing Education and Institutional Relations in Fall 2008 [7]. The position has now been established, posted and is currently being advertised. [8]. As noted, the position is responsible for developing, planning, and implementing a program that supports the University's mission [8].

Outreach and Service
Community Service
PVAMU has a history of providing service to its community that does date back to its beginnings [9]. Its commitment to professional and community outreach and service stems directly from the university’s mission as a land grant institution to serve the community by transforming ideas into actions. Examples include the community service provided by social and fraternal organizations, professional organizations, residence hall groups and through the student government association.

Students play a major role in all aspects of PVAMU’s outreach and service efforts. Several offices in the Division of Student Affairs provide a clearing house for these projects and initiatives. Specifically, The Office of Student Activities and Leadership requires each member of a registered student organization to perform thirty hours of service per year[10]. This results in thousands of hours of service ranging from reading to the elderly in local in nursing homes, keeping highways clean as a part of the Adopt a Highway Program of the Texas Department of Transportation, and tutoring and mentoring students in the local schools. Organizations decide what community service projects they want to complete during the academic year.

Panthers at Work
Equipped with trash bags, gloves, shovels, plants and more Prairie View A&M University students spend a Saturday morning helping to clean and maintain the University and its surrounding community through the Panthers-At-Work (PAW) Community Clean-Up Project. Started in 2005, the PAW event brings students, faculty, staff and community members together for an exciting morning and afternoon of community service, as noted in a 2006 news release [11]. The University's mission is referenced at the bottom of outreach and service learning news releases [11] [24]. Sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs and Institutional Relations and the City of Prairie View, the event is designed to help students understand the importance of service, help them understand what it means to be a productive citizen in society and unite Prairie View A&M students with members of the local community.

Service-learning is a teaching and learning method that aims to connect meaningful community service with academic learning through guided reflection of the students’ service experience and course content [12]. These service opportunities provide increased learning of the curriculum while the students serve the community and become civically engaged. Service-learning demonstrates a paradigm shift in undergraduate education from an emphasis on teaching to one on learning [12].

Examples of service-learning at PVAMU include: a faculty member in the College of Nursing partnering with Wheatley High School in Houston and engaging her students to teach parenting skills from birth to preschool; a faculty member in the School of Architecture instructing his students to develop a feasibility study for the City of Prairie View to consider what types of businesses would be most successful in the area; faculty in the College of Business joining with the Internal Revenue Service to increase earned income tax credit (EITC) awareness through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Vita provides free income tax preparation for low-income individuals and families, students, senior citizens and non-English speaking people. In 2009 volunteers prepared and filed 250 tax returns at no cost to clients [13].

The PVAMU ACCESS program [14] works to fully integrate service-learning in a summer bridge program. In 2006, the group culminated in a capstone visit to New Orleans where 100 students spent three days helping to prepare a high school to open following hurricane Katrina [15]. The students and staff put in over 2,000 hours sanding, priming and painting the school. In addition, they provided activities to the children and adult clients of the Association for Retarded Citizens [16]. In addition to class projects, service-learning at Prairie View A&M University promotes civic engagement by extending the classroom to the community.

The Service-Learning committee meets throughout the academic year monitoring its success in achieving its goals, assessing its programs and designing more strategies to help it accomplish its goals. The program’s goals are listed on its website and support the University's service mission [17]. The success of the ACCESSS program was recently highlighted in a University presentation to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. [18]

Community Development Program
The Community Development Graduate Program in the School of Architecture’s curriculum is designed to broaden the knowledge base, promote research, service learning and decision-making along with developing interactive and collaborative skills applicable to teamwork, management, leadership and entrepreneurship [19]. This is accomplished by coordinating community service and service-learning activities at the Wyatt Chapel Slave Cemetery, located on the PVAMU campus and in other locations throughout the regional area.  On occasion, the PVAMU students join with students from the Waller High School National Honor Society to extend clean-up efforts. Additionally, researchers and students from Rice University have joined PVAMU graduate students in clearing and marking the burial ground, which the program hopes to fully document and study for historical and academic purposes [11].

Humanitarian Award
Prairie View A&M University Humanitarian Awards [20] provide another opportunity to illustrate the outstanding service and accomplishments of PVAMU students and community members. Additionally, the Humanitarian Award as a way to inspire students, alumni, faculty, staff, and members of the community to live a productive life dedicated to responding to the unmet needs of others.

First initiated during the 2004-2005 academic year, the awards are named annually during the University’s spring commencement exercises [21]. The award recognizes a Prairie View A&M University student and a community member whose life and humanitarian service clearly exemplify a true spirit of love and helpfulness to others. As a state institution dedicated to service to the community, PVAMU uses the Humanitarian Award as a way to inspire students, alumni, faculty, staff to continue to support the mission of the University.

A committee comprised of University, faculty, staff students, and community members make the selection. The process and criteria for selection are reviewed annually by the committee members.  A list of the recipients and committee members is provided on the Humanitarian Award's website [20].

National Student Exchange
Recognized for its nurturing environment and strong specialized academic programs, Prairie View A&M University, participates in the National Student Exchange (NSE) [22]. This consortium of four-year colleges and universities in the United States and its territories, serves as a national resource for inter-institutional study throughout the United States. Since 2005, PVAMU has provided outreach opportunities to over 15 students who have come from a wide range of institutions [23].

Work completed while on exchange at the host campus is brought back to the home institution and credited to the student’s degree program. Students who participate are able to broaden their personal and educational perspectives, explore and appreciate new cultures and become independent and resourceful.

Gates Program
PVAMU takes seriously its commitment to be an important resource for the community through training and mentoring programs, especially in the local K-12 schools.

PVAMU partnered with the TMCF Redesign Network to help facilitate a national school reform and partnership initiative [24]. The program is supported by a competitive grant for HBCUs from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The program’s mission is to assess, identify, implement and improve best practices in school reform from across the country to drive enhanced performance in underserved school districts that largely serve minority students. Additionally, the program seeks to implement redesign initiatives to better prepare students from low-income backgrounds for college, thereby helping to close the academic achievement gap. See Project XLR8 (Accelerate) below.

PVAMU also partners with educational, business, government, cultural, and health organizations in the community to work on large-scale programs for the greater good of the community, state, region, and country. One such example is the “Comm-university.” The partners, community members and university faculty, staff and students participate as advisory board members organized to foster and support development of the Prairie View community with special emphasis on the City of Prairie View [25].

Cultural Programming
Finally, PVAMU’s outreach efforts include extending community invitations to a wide range of intellectual and cultural activities that occur on campus. Most academic units offer lecture series that bring renowned scientists, theorists, authors, and philosophers to campus for public presentations. The University Scholars Program, which was designed to respond to the national need for more graduate and professional level researchers, practitioners and faculty in all fields, sponsored special lectures by Dr. Cornel West, Mr. Julian Bond, Ms. Nikki Giovanni and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, all of which were open to the public [26]. The College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology inaugurated the well-received Royce West Forum and Lecture Series, Fall 2008 with the theme “An Agenda for America's Future.” Key participants were the Honorable Gerald A. Neal, Senator from Kentucky, TAMU System Chancellor Michael D. McKinney, and TAMU System and Attorney Anthony Lyons. Attendees included governmental officials, community leaders and politicians from across the state [27]. The community is also very active in PVAMU’s cultural arts programs, and the Marvin D. and June Samuel Brailsford College of Arts and Sciences has offered programs including art, theatre, music, and concerts, which are all open to the public [28].

Project XLR8 (Accelerate)
This is a high school redesign project through a partnership between Royal High School and Prairie View A&M University. The mission is the “To provide an environment that facilitates graduation from high school and prepares every student for college, career and life.” Project XLR8 activities include the following: 1) Enhancing the Environment: Redesigning classroom interaction, making the interface more conducive for learning, with university faculty in each discipline teaching at high school at least one day every week, and with laboratories designed for enhanced, hands-on experience; 2) Enhancing the Rigor: Jointly developing lesson plans that increase the depth of topics covered, incorporate more independent and team projects for concept- and activity-based learning designed to integrate ideas and knowledge from diverse disciplines, including experience with report writing; 3) Enhancing the Relevance: Exposing the students to careers of the future, assisting with career plans, demonstrating connections of class material and the real world, incorporating technology; and 4) Enhancing the Relationships: Establishing and sustaining a mentoring program for students involving school and university faculty, staff and students [29] [30].

Summer and Enrichment Programs
The University offers a number of summer and enrichment programs [31] [32]. One example in place since the summer of 1984, is the Summer Institute for Pre-College Enrichment (PCI), a two-week residential summer program, for talented high school students. The mission for PCI is to help prepare students for the new school year and assist them in making early plans to pursue a college education in an area that interest them most. They are also encouraged to stay in school and to go to college. Many of our former participants have enrolled at Prairie View A&M University or other universities upon graduation from high school. Currently, PCI and selected academic units co-sponsor the program with 6 workshops/seminars to help students plan and prepare for college and future careers. Students receive emphasis on essay writing, college application, funding for college, scholarship awareness and leadership [33].

Cooperative Agriculture Research Center
The Cooperative Agricultural Research Center (CARC) is located on the campus of Prairie View A& M University. The center was established in 1947 as an agricultural experimental substation. The center operates within the inclusion of the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences. The CARC is fully engaged in contributing to the university’s land-grant mission of teaching, research and service by developing and transferring scientific information, technical competencies and human capital in the food and agricultural sciences.

As the research arm of the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences, the CARC employs over 55 full-time scientists and support staff. At any given time, CARC scientists are engaged in more than 30 research projects in the areas of agricultural and environmental quality, animal genetics, biocontrol/bioremediation, food quality and safety, alternative and emerging crops, value-added products, human nutrition/obesity and technology transfer. The center also employs/trains an average of 60 graduate and undergraduate students in these areas. The mission of the Cooperative Agricultural Research Center is: To conduct relevant, quality, focused, basic and applied research in the areas of agriculture, and life and human sciences [34].

An overview of many of the University's outreach and service can be found on its website [35], in its Five Points of Excellence publication, which reflects on the university's mission, recent accomplishments, programs, and governance [36], and on the websites of university colleges, such as that of the Roy G. Perry College of Engineering [37].

Supporting Documentation and Links

Comprehensive Standards 3.4.2

© 2009 Prairie View A&M University