Baffa Takes CMU In New Directions

To spearhead new Applied Behavior Analysis program


Central Methodist University's new Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) degree is breaking new ground, and its first faculty member Dr. Francine Baffa is herself going where CMU has never gone in its 160-year history.

Baffa, who resides in Greenwich, Conn., is CMU's first-ever full-time online faculty member. The new assistant professor will teach a full course load, provide leadership for curriculum development, work on national ABA accreditation issues, and advise students – all by way of technology.

It's quite a leap for an institution that until three years ago had only a handful of online classes and no online degree programs, noted CMU Provost Rita Gulstad. Today it boasts nine undergraduate plus two graduate online degree programs.

"CMU is excited about the growth in its online programs and the success of its graduates," Gulstad said. "Students need and want access to quality education that is convenient for them.  CMU is proud to work with so many wonderful students."

The CMU Applied Behavior Analysis program itself came about not through the traditional way through its main campus in Fayette. Instead it grew from CMU's partnership with Crowder College in Neosho, which has an ABA certification program. Crowder encouraged CMU to develop a compatible bachelor's degree program.

The program is now available through CMU in Fayette, its partnerships with many community colleges across the state, and fully online. A minor and also is available. The degree is designed to meet educational requirements so student can take the national accrediting exam.

CMU can also credit Crowder College with its introduction to Francine Baffa, who has been an adjunct professor at Crowder. She is excited about the opportunity to join CMU full time and to help develop the program in a field that is growing rapidly.

"The need for qualified and well trained behavior analysts is increasing and a goal of collegiate programs to meet this initiative will be of great service to the community and to advancement in the field," Baffa said.

Applied Behavior Analysis is a process of studying and modifying behavior. It has been effective for many with Autism and other developmental disorders. It can change the environment and lead to changed responses from the person, often resulting in changed behavior and/or the learning of life skills.

Baffa has her doctorate in Autism and Intellectual Disabilities from Columbia University in New York. She has master's degrees from Iona College and Manhattanville College, and a bachelor's degree from Cornell University. Baffa is working on a third masters from New York University, and has an administrative certificate in education from Sacred Heart University.

Baffa is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and currently serves as a BCBA certification supervisor. She consults on ABA and Autism Spectrum Disorder issues not only in the U.S., but in India, Dubai, Russia, Canada and Australia.

Baffa founded and operated Integrated Behavior and Educational Services and Training, LLC out of Greenwich for several years. She has taught as an adjunct (part time) at Western Connecticut State University, Fordham University, Sage Colleges, and Columbia University (N.Y.). She began her career teaching special education in Connecticut public schools.

The demand for professionals certified in Advanced Behavior Analysis is strong and CMU officials expect demand to continue to increase, Gulstad said.

"The applications of applied behavior analysis are both broad reaching and empirically based," Baffa said. "This course work serves as the perfect complement to the cadre of academics at CMU."


Posted July 21, 2014