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Meeting of the Board of Regents | September 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 7:40am

SED Seal                                                                                   




The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents


Frank Munoz


Regents Permission to Operate in New York State:

Western Kentucky University


August 31, 2010


Goal 2




Issue for Decision (Consent Agenda)

Should the Regents approve the proposed permission to operate in a limited capacity in New York State for Western Kentucky University?

Reason(s) for Consideration

Required by State statute.

Proposed Handling

This question will come before the full Board at its September 2010 meeting where it will be voted on and action taken. 

Procedural History

Regents permission to operate in New York State is required by Section 224 of the Education Law which prohibits out-of-state colleges and universities from transacting business in New York without Regents permission.

Background Information

Western Kentucky University (WKU), located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, has offered since 2002 a Master of Science online degree program in Communication Disorders to candidates in New York City pursuant to contracts with NYSED. The current contract continues through June 30, 2014. This contract, known as the Speech-Language Personnel Development Technical Assistance Center (SLPD-TAC), reflects a partnership among WKU, the United Federation of Teachers Educational Foundation (UFT) and the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE). SLPD-TAC was created to provide more licensed Speech-Language Pathologists and certified Teachers of Speech-Language Disabilities to meet the needs of students in New York City Public Schools.

Western Kentucky University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The University offers programs both onsite and online and has contracted with a number of states to offer programs to select groups. WKU’s   Communication Disorders program (both campus-based and distance education) is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Speech-Language Pathology of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The Department has determined that ASHA-accredited programs satisfy New York State professional education requirements for licensure as a speech-language pathologist. Commissioner’s Regulations allow for an exception for licensed speech-language pathologists to receive initial certification as Teachers of Speech and Language Disabilities in lieu of meeting the education and examination requirements prescribed in section 80-3 if stated criteria are satisfied.

The program is designed to prepare professional speech therapists to meet the needs of the communicatively impaired in hospitals, clinics, nursing facilities, schools, etc. It satisfies the academic and clinical requirements of ASHA and New York State, thereby allowing its graduates to obtain national certification and state licensure. The special cohort program conducted as part of the SLPD-TAC consortium offers a fully accredited program in a distance education format which allows participants to earn a Master's Degree as part-time students while remaining in full-time service in the New York City schools. The university is seeking permission for a limited physical presence in New York State to supplement the web-based instruction. Each didactic course would include a one weekend face-to-face interaction to be held in New York City. This physical presence would enable the students to meet together one weekend per semester with the WKU professor. The program's graduates as well as WKU faculty, UFT Speech Improvement Coaches who serve as WKU part-time faculty for clinical coursework, and NYCDOE consortium principals believe that the program would be enhanced with this face-to-face interaction between the WKU professor and the students.

The 49-credit curriculum is comprised of 14 three-credit courses and 7 credits of practicum. Required courses are: Research Methods, Motor Speech Disorders, Seminar in Child Language, Dysfluency, Aphasia, Voice Disorders, Professional Issues, Neurology for Speech and Language, Phonology, Cognitive Linguistic Disorders, Dysphasia, Rehabilitative Audiology, Advanced Alternative and Augmentative Communicative Modalities and an approved elective in the discipline.  Per ASHA’s 2005 requirements, students must document 400 clinical hours.  Students are required to take a one-credit course, Clinical Internship, in which students work with clients under direct observation of a licensed clinical instructor for their first 25 hours. Students also enroll in three sections of Clinical Externship, for two credits each. Externship placements are required to be in three different settings designed to expose students to a variety of impairments and give them an opportunity to demonstrate competency in each of the required areas.  Students work with clients under the supervision of licensed CCC-SLPs to complete a minimum of 375 hours.  Together with the clinical internship, students have the ability to complete the required 400 clinical hours. The program is unique in that online didactic coursework is combined with the local support of the UFT in providing a laboratory clinic, instruction in clinical practica, assistance with externship placements, and mentoring. Further, the course sequence is offered on a part-time schedule in which all program requirements can be completed at night, on weekends, and during scheduled school breaks.

Students are current or future teachers of the New York City Department of Education and are recruited through the NYCDOE’s Office of Scholarship and Incentive Programs. Admission is competitive and based on grade point average, Graduate Record Examination Scores, three letters of recommendation, and a letter of intent. Additionally, students must complete all basic science and foundational knowledge areas in communication disorders as prerequisites before starting the program. According to the 2005 ASHA certification guidelines, students are required to have 12 credits in basic sciences including a biological, physical, social/behavioral science, and a college-level course in mathematics. WKU offers all these prerequisites online. All students will be enrolled part-time. Enrollment will consist of two cohorts of 30 students each, entering the program in alternate years. Maximum enrollment will be 60 students at any one time.

Essential to the program's viability is the clinic laboratory and resource center available at the United Federation of Teachers Teacher Center. This facility provides students with the opportunity for direct supervision by instructional staff, as required by ASHA, for the student's first 25 hours of experience working with clients. Additionally, the resource center houses a lending library of materials for the program's students and provides space for the proposed face-to-face class meetings, orientation, GRE preparation, and praxis review sessions. This request provides for continued annual investment in supplies and materials for the lab and library and new equipment to include laptop computers and a scanner. Additionally, all electronic and hard copy resources of the WKU library are made available to the New York City students at no charge.

All six of the Ph.D. level faculty in the WKU Communication Disorders Department teach and advise students in the New York City program. Students also have access to an experienced office staff and dedicated program advisor. Students have the support of four local licensed SLPs that serve as clinical instructors and mentors. These part-time faculty members support students with placements for their externships.


            As there is a continuing need for speech providers in the New York City Department of Education, this program fulfills a niche in meeting the demand by providing a hybrid distance education program that makes it possible for full-time teachers to pursue a master's degree as part-time students. Five cohorts of 25 to 30 students each have completed the program since 2002. Thirty to forty-three percent of each cohort has been bilingual. Further, this program has demonstrated success in retaining 91% of the teachers within the school system upon earning their graduate degrees. The requested face-to-face meetings of students and WKU professors in each course once a semester is intended to enhance the current program taken by students in New York City.

            Consistent with its planning process, the Department conducted a canvass of all degree-granting institutions of higher education in the New York City region. The Department received no objections.


It is recommended that the Regents approve the proposed permission to operate effective September 14, 2010, to authorize Western Kentucky University to use physical space in New York City to enable students in its online program in Communication Disorders leading to the Master of Science degree program to meet together one weekend per semester with their respective WKU professors.

Timetable for Implementation

This approval will be effective until June 30, 2014.