This year, more than ever before, he said, the computer will play an integral and diverse role in enhancing the educational process across the campus. Whether as a research tool linking students to the vast resources of the World Wide Web or as an intimate medium for two-way audio-visual conferencing between students and professionals, this state-of-the-art technology will soon be employed by every department.
Adding to the excitement, Craycraft said, are plans to construct a new multimedia center in the Newton Gresham Library. That project, now in the bidding phase, is expected to get under way this year. Once complete, the center will allow students and faculty to utilize to a wide variety of computer applications including on-line research via the Internet, as well as access to selected educational and professional software packages.
New technologies will also be employed by the Center for Professional Development and Technology, a project linking the College of Education and Applied Sciences with Texas public school professionals. Aided by a $1.58 million grant from the Texas Education Agency, the center works collaboratively with public schools, community colleges, education service centers and community groups to improve educational performance and teaching expertise across the state.
Craycraft sees on-line computer technology as "an equalizer" of sorts, providing a vehicle for delivering the latest advances in educational techniques and training to remote, rural or small school systems that may have limited resources.
"When you create opportunity, you create hope," said the dean. "When you create hope, you create a foundation for success."
Other areas of the college riding the high-tech wave include the Department of Technology, where students are working on the latest computer-assisted drawing and design software, and the Department of Health and Kinesiology where students are trained to operate a wide variety of technical machines that evaluate athletic performance.
Because current technologies change at such an amazing pace, Craycraft was quick to acknowledge the financial and logistical difficulty of keeping cutting-edge technologies accessible to students on campus. Computer software that may be an industry standard today could easily become obsolete with little warning. To address this problem, the College of Education and Applied Sciences promotes an active student internship program.
"We want students to really become acquainted, on a first hand basis, with the world of work. To accomplish this, we provide formalized, guided internship opportunities in chosen fields. Through these internships, SHSU students are exposed to the latest technologies in their respective fields," Craycraft explained. "We know that graduates involved in internship programs have a 41 percent better chance of being employed."
Yet despite his enthusiasm about the technological opportunities afforded students in the College of Education and Applied Sciences, Craycraft emphasizes that these modern amenities are merely a means to an end. "Technology is a tool and it must always be thought of as a tool. It will never take the place of creative minds, it is not a panacea."
Craycraft hopes that the university's investment in computer technologies will make learning easier and more rewarding. He implores new and returning students to "immerse yourself in your major and minor fields of study, explore all opportunities and take advantage of all opportunities that are presented to you."
Take what we offer," he said, "and improve upon it."
On the academic front, the '96-'97 school year could see a significant achievement for the SHSU's College of Education as negotiations culminate for the establishment of two new doctoral programs. The first, a doctorate offering in educational leadership, has already past the first hurdle in a lengthy state certification process.
"We have already had a visit with a national panel of experts to evaluate our readiness to offer a doctoral program in educational leadership and we have received the equivalent of a clean bill of health," Craycraft said. The fate of the program now lies in the hands of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board which will rule on the proposal in October.
Later this fall, another panel of experts will visit SHSU to evaluate the university's readiness to offer a Ph.D. program in forensic psychology. One advantage of this program, said Craycraft, is that it involves input from the College of Criminal Justice as well as the Department of Psychology and Philosophy.
"What that does is allow a more comprehensive utilization of university resources and strengths as we prepare the program," said the dean. "I think you are going to find that the institutions of higher education in the 21st century that are going to be successful are going to be those that make greater utilization of the university-wide human resources. The Texas Legislature, as well as the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will be looking at how a university allocates its sources, how it utilizes the strenghts onboard and how it's able to remain fiscally accountable everyone involved. We feel like that what we have designed is certainly in keeping with the direction that higher education well be taking in Texas."
According to Craycraft, only seven other doctorate programs in forensic psychology are offered in the United States. Upon approval, the SHSU program would be the first in the Southwest.