Last month, the Department of Graduate Studies in Education (GSE) faced a likely closure of the department and its masters’ degree programs, but may have the opportunity of staying open with the addition of a doctorate of education in organizational leadership.
Dr. Donnie Snider, chair and dean of the College of Education and Human Services, Dr. Bruce Scott, chair of the Department of Graduate Studies in Education, and Dr. Stephen Johnson, dean of the graduate school, have been working on a doctoral school proposal that was presented to the Graduate Council earlier this month.
The proposal was vetted and approved by the University Graduate Council and will move on to a full faculty vote, which has been scheduled for later this month.
“The date has been set back twice as the faculty have requested additional opportunities for discussion and analysis,” said Dr. Joe Cardot, chair of the Department of Communication and Sociology and chair of Faculty Senate. “There are many questions that people have about how the program will be directed, staffed and monitored.”
A majority vote must be achieved in order to take the next step.
“Once the proposal had achieved a majority vote, it goes to SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools), our regional accreditors, to sign off and approve,” Scott said.
Once SACS approves the program proposal, marketing and course development will begin. Snider and Scott have allowed two months in their plan for SACS to review the proposal.
“We think it’ll go well with SACS, but SACS handles numerous states and they’ll get to it when they get to it,” Scott said. “You can’t hurry them up.”
Despite the possibility of a delay in the process, Snider remains optimistic.
“We’re close,” he said. “We’ve cleared a lot of hurdles and we’re down to the last few hurdles.”
If the proposal is passed, the program will be the second doctoral degree offered by the university aside from the Doctorate of Divinity offered through the Graduate School of Theology.
“This addition of another doctorate is kind of a big deal,” Snider said. “Master of Divinity is currently the only program and graduates two or three a year. This program could have four, five, six hundred students all around the world.”
The program will be entirely online, making it possible to include students beyond Abilene. The program will also offer opportunities for non-education majors to pursue a doctorate in education.
“We want people to understand it’s interdisciplinary,” Snider said. “Even though it says doctorate of education, it’s not just for education. An Ed.D. is accepted as a terminal degree in many fields not just in education, it appeals to a lot of disciplines. Doctorate of education is a general term; it is a doctorate in organizational leadership.”
Snider and Scott hope the program will attract a wide variety of students.
“We’re looking at people who want to be top executives in their chosen field,” Scott said. “Whether that’s school or a nonprofit organization like the American Red Cross or a hospital or higher education advocation. The goal we’re looking at is creating experts in leadership and organizations and understanding Christian vocation.”
The two have high hopes for the program.
“We’re really excited about it because it’s interdisciplinary,” Snider said. “It just gives you a better chance to be successful.”
Their goal is to start doctoral courses in the second session of the spring semester, which starts March 3.