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Meeting of the Board of Regents | September 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - 9:15am

TO:                                                 The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents


FROM:                                         Frank Muñoz


SUBJECT:                             Master Plan Amendment: State University College at Old Westbury, Master of Science (M.S.) in Mental Health Counseling


DATE:                                      September 1, 2009


STRATEGIC GOAL:             Goal 2






Issue for Decision (Consent Agenda)


                            Should the Board of Regents approve an amendment to the master plan of the State University of New York authorizing the College at Old Westbury to offer the Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Mental Health Counseling?


Reason for Consideration


              Required by State regulation


Proposed Handling


This question will come before the full Board at its September 2009 meeting for final action.


Procedural History


              Master plan amendment is required because this would be the institution’s first graduate degree program in the disciplinary area of social sciences.


Background Information


              The State University Board of Trustees, at its March 11, 2008 meeting, adopted a resolution to amend the State University Master Plan to authorize the College at Old Westbury to offer instruction leading to the Master of Science degree in Mental Health Counseling. The College has offered graduate programs in business since 2003. The proposed program will prepare students for professional licensure as a Mental Health Counselor and will satisfy the national accreditation guidelines of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).


              Students will take 60 credits over four semesters, covering theory, field work, skills, and professional development. Required courses include:  Introduction to Counseling Theory and Practice; Principles and Techniques of Counseling; Psychosocial and Cultural Perspectives I and II; Lifespan Development; Counseling Children and Families; Psychopathology; Diagnosis and Treatment of Addictive Disorders; and Career Development.  Courses related to field work include: Practica I and II and Clinical Internship in Mental Health Counseling I and II.  Courses to develop necessary skills include:  Assessment Techniques in Counseling, Multicultural Counseling Lab, Group Counseling, and Research Methods in Counseling.


Consistent with the approved SUNY Board of Trustees mission of the College and with the 2006 Memorandum of Understanding between the SUNY System and the College, the professional graduate program is grounded in the liberal arts.  The program will be modest in size and commits to diversity and social justice, which the College believes is important for clinical and cultural competence as well as social and professional responsibility.  Three courses in the required curriculum focus on multicultural counseling and the psychosocial and cultural perspectives on counseling.


              Applicants for the proposed graduate program will have earned a baccalaureate in psychology or another relevant field from a nationally-accredited institution. They will need a minimum grade point average of 3.0 in all undergraduate work and at least a 3.0 in psychology courses or strong evidence of recent academic achievement. Letters of recommendation and the GRE General Test will also be required.


              The College anticipates that most of its applicants will be graduates of colleges and universities in the New York City/Long Island area (about 90%), including a considerable number of graduates from the College’s undergraduate psychology program. The College expects a very diverse student body, one that mirrors the highly diverse undergraduate psychology major at Old Westbury. The total full-time enrollment in the first year is expected to be 15, with a total of 30 in five years.


              The Department has determined that the College has the resources needed to start the program, including an appropriate number of qualified faculty and established arrangements with over 40 sites for fieldwork placement.  To satisfy CACREP accreditation standards the College plans to increase its resources by 2012. The library, through its electronic subscriptions, SUNY Connect, and other electronic technology, enables faculty and students access to all major social science and mental health literature. In addition, the College plans to acquire about 100 books on mental health counseling to make the collection more current.  With the planned completion and opening of the College’s new academic building in 2011, the program will have excellent physical facilities including, for example, one-way mirrored rooms with audio/video recording capabilities.


              The Psychology Department has 11 faculty members, all with Ph.D.’s.  Six of these are clinical/counseling specialists and one is a counseling psychologist. Of the eleven, seven hold New York State professional licenses as psychologists. In addition, the College has committed the resources to add three faculty members licensed as Mental Health Counselors – two to be hired prior to the implementation of the program in the fall of 2010 and an additional licensed faculty member to be in place for the 2011 academic year.  These additional faculty members will work with the current Psychology faculty members to provide the academic and practical expertise to deliver the proposed mental health counseling curriculum.


              The 2008-09 Occupational Outlook Handbook projects employment in mental health counseling “to grow by 30 percent, which is much faster than the average for all occupations” through 2016. Graduates will be prepared to work in a variety of private, public and not-for-profit community social service agencies, hospitals, and mental health clinics or in private independent practice.


              The College believes that the Mental Health Counseling program will provide regional graduates with quality, affordable access to the State’s newly-established professional mental health counseling license, further enhance the reputation of the College of Old Westbury as a leader in preparing graduate professionals, and contribute to the needs of Long Island and the State of New York.             


              A canvass was conducted of all degree-granting institutions in the Long Island Region and to all degree-granting institutions offering Mental Health Counseling programs statewide.  There were no objections to the proposed program.


              The Department has determined that the proposed program meets the standards for registration set forth in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.




              It is recommended that the Board of Regents approve the proposed master plan amendment of the State University of New York authorizing the College at Old Westbury to offer the Master of Science degree program in Mental Health Counseling. This amendment will be effective until September 15, 2010, unless the Department registers the program prior to that date, in which case the Master Plan Amendment shall be without term.


Timetable for Implementation


              If the Board of Regents approves the master plan amendment, the Department will register the program following gubernatorial approval, and the institution will proceed to recruit and enroll students in the program.