By Julee Cobb
With a continued focus on enhancing the student experience, Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus has hired its first-ever director of academic operations.
Terri Gaeddert, former associate dean and director of teacher education at Sterling College, has been selected for the new role and is charged specifically with strengthening program collaboration under the campus’ recently implemented School of Integrated Studies. She also will streamline course schedules, mentor faculty and improve faculty resourcing. The creation of the position, which Gaeddert began in January, is a part of Kansas State Polytechnic’s vision of providing an environment centered around experiential learning and cost-effective education.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Gaeddert as the inaugural director of academic operations on the Polytechnic Campus. Along with an indisputable passion for higher education, she brings years of valuable expertise and a fresh perspective that will help lead the School of Integrated Studies and our commitment to offering students relevant education with a strong experimental component,” said Verna Fitzsimmons, dean and CEO of Kansas State Polytechnic.
In fall 2016, the campus established the School of Integrated Studies after it was approved by the Kansas Board of Regents the year before. The new academic alignment allows programs and faculty to no longer be separated by department, but to be organized together under the director of academic operations. One of Gaeddert’s primary roles is to help faculty utilize the collective structure to generate synergy among the programs — integrating different disciplines so students will receive additional skills and knowledge relatable to their majors.
Gaeddert also will develop a two-year rotation of courses, ensuring every course in a major is offered at least once within a two-year window. This will provide all students — bachelor’s degree-seeking students, transfer students and students with an associate degree pursing a bachelor’s degree — the opportunity to complete their endeavors in a timely manner, which will bolster cost savings. In addition, Gaeddert will implement scheduling efficiencies for faculty so they can spend more time with students, performing research and connecting with the community.
“My teaching philosophy is based around the three R’s: relationships, relevance and rigor. One of the reasons this position stood out is because the polytechnic, or hands-on, approach this campus values encompasses those elements,” said Gaeddert. “Knowledge and understanding is only the beginning; it’s those that are able to apply, do and create using their knowledge that will be heavily sought after. I look forward to working with the faculty at Kanas State Polytechnic as they continue to cultivate an experience-driven atmosphere for their students.”
A native of Ogallala, Nebraska, Gaeddert has a doctorate in educational leadership from Wichita State University, a master’s in teaching from Friends University in Wichita and a bachelor’s in mathematics and computer science from Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska. Most recently, she served as the associate dean of Sterling College as well as its director of teacher education for four years. Gaeddert also worked in high schools as a teacher and technology specialist, wrote curriculum and problem-solving tests for the Kansas State Education Department, and has served on a number of Kansas teacher education committees.