Bellevue University got state clearance Friday to launch Nebraska’s first new teacher-­education program in 15 years.
Members of the Nebraska State Board of Education voted unanimously to grant the university provisional approval for the new program.
It will be the 17th teacher-­prep program in the state.
The last one to win final approval was Grace University’s, in 2001, a state official said.
Bellevue University officials plan to offer a four-year program to certify secondary school teachers.
Provisional approval allows the university to ramp up the program over the next three years with state oversight.
The program’s first teachers will be certified 2½ to 3 years from now, according to Rod Hewlett, the university’s chief academic officer.
Officials plan to focus the program on the fields of math, science, history, technology, business and psychology. In some areas of the state, teachers with those specialties are in short supply.
Hewlett said preparing teachers “fits within the scheme of who we are and what we do.”
The first graduates probably will be students who come to Bellevue University with their first year of general education already out of the way, he said.
By around the fourth or fifth year, graduates should be starting to have a significant impact in their communities, he said.
The program will start with 15 to 20 students and “responsibly” expand to around 100 to 150, he said.
Bellevue University has solid relationships with Nebraska’s community colleges and would work with them to provide those students opportunities to get their certification, he said.
Hewlett said there’s room for another teacher-prep school in Nebraska.
The university plans to train teachers in subject areas where its general education programs are already strong, he said.
“Not that we’re going to go try to raid anybody. That’s not the goal,” he said. “The goal is to offer something unique and special, and meeting the needs of the state and meeting our learners as well,” he said.
There’s a “tremendous need” for teachers in science and technology as well as to replace teachers who are expected to retire, he said.