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When, in April of 2015, the Board of Trustees authorized President George Hagerty to enter into an international agreement for collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Center for Disability Research (KSCDR), a new chapter in Beacon College’s development unfolded: the introduction of selective partnerships that will strengthen Beacon’s distinct mission and culture.  The success of this first partnership, highlighted by this summer’s pre-college COMPASS Program for students from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has become the platform for the exploration of similarly innovative cooperative relationships with national and international institutions and organizations seeking to advance their own priorities by partnering with our College.

In October, President Hagerty and Dr. Shelly Chandler, Beacon’s Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, were invited to Texas Christian University (TCU) at the request of Dr. Mary Patton, the Dean of TCU’s College of Education.  Dean Patton’s invitation followed an on-site visit to Beacon the previous January by Dr. Patton and several TCU faculty.  The introduction of the two institutions was facilitated by Mr. Hugh Thompson, an actively engaged Beacon Trustee and a member of the TCU College of Education Advisory Board.

In addition to meetings with faculty and administration on the TCU campus, including a luncheon hosted by the University’s Chancellor, Drs. Hagerty and Chandler had the privilege of touring the programs of the much-lauded Starpoint Laboratory School for students with learning differences, and keynoted an evening program devoted to the Beacon model and student outcomes for an audience of parents and educators.

TCU is a top-100 U.S. research university (and its beloved Horn Frogs have captured enviable standings in the national football polls).  While impressive, these noteworthy institutional attributes are not influential in why and how either school explores and possibly fashions a meaningful, sustained partnership.  In this regard, decisions are made on chemistry: the alignment of institutional missions, the scholarly focus on teaching and learning, a shared spirit of collaboration, and the like.  From our institution’s reciprocal visits, it is clear that collaborative interests do exist and, in fact, intersect on a number of planes.

TCU’s College of Education is deserving of its solid reputation and high rankings because, under Dean Patton’s tenure, College has invested wisely in its faculty, who have brought to the institution and TCU’s students exemplary teaching, scholarly prowess, and a decidedly entrepreneurial and substantial dedication to community service.  When one is on the TCU campus, as it is at Beacon, the recognition that you are in a special place of learning is palpable.

And so, Beacon and TCU have agreed to begin discussions on two tangible initiatives that will be of mutual benefit to our communities and our students.  It is expected that these efforts might be negotiated over the course of the spring 2016 and be introduced no later than the spring semester of 2017.  These include the introduction of Beacon College as an internship placement for advanced graduate students in TCU’s College of Education.  (We envision 2-3 graduate placements will be available each year.)  The second initiative will be the formalizing of an articulation agreement between Beacon and TCU’s College of Education that would facilitate: (a) the transfer of Beacon students to enter undergraduate training that can lead to the acquisition of a teaching certificate, or (b) entry into one of TCU.s competitive graduate degree programs in Education.

In the months ahead, Dr. Chandler will begin the detailed process of discussing and working with both the Beacon and TCU communities to allow these proposals to take form and become a reality.  Certainly, the primary beneficiaries in the success of this partnership will be Beacon’s and TCU’s students, present and future.

As each partnership blossoms on the Beacon campus and beyond, the expression and tangible outcomes of the College’s mission grows ever stronger.  It is the community’s interest to choose our partners in education carefully, as is the testimony of our recent efforts.  Other partners in technology and finance are on the horizon.  We will keep you abreast of these advances as they unfold.