A proposed doctoral program at Sam Houston State University has received tentative approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

In a unanimous vote Oct. 17, the board paved the way for SHSU to initiate a doctorate of education program in educational leadership. Final approval of the proposal hinges on a second vote scheduled for the board's Jan. 16-17 meeting.

"This was the most critical step for us," said Dr. Ken Craycraft, dean of SHSU's College of Education. "If there had been any objections, they would have arisen in the board's discussion. As it turned out, our proposal was approved without opposition."

With this important hurdle cleared, Craycraft said he is confident the board will authorize the degree after the second reading in January. If approved, it will become SHSU's second doctoral degree offering. The university has offered a doctorate in criminal justice since 1970.

Pending final approval, Craycraft said the university will be ready to initiate the program in the summer of 1997. In the meantime, the College of Education is continuing the program's development.

"We have been moving very prudently, yet very deliberately, to make sure that we don't have to make important decisions at the last minute," said the dean.

A $97,000 renovation to the Teacher Education Center is currently under way. When completed in January, the remodeled space will house the Center for Research and Doctoral Studies in Educational Leadership. The center will support the collaborative integration for the program's academic, research and field service components.

Currently, 120 potential doctoral candidates are waiting to apply for admission once the SHSU program is approved. Craycraft said initial plans call for admitting 15 students into the program each year.

SHSU's doctoral program in educational leadership will be distinguished by its emphasis on practical applications and applied research.

"One of the things that traditional Ph.D. programs have been accused of in recent years, is the creation of esoteric research designed for fellow higher education faculty members," Craycraft explained.

As a result, he said, these programs have neglected the needs of the schools, their students and the teachers and administrators who manage them.

SHSU's Ed.D. program, on the other hand, will have a strong field-based component. Doctoral students will work closely with area educational institutions, addressing problems having a negative impact on the quality of education students are receiving.

"Though the research component (in the Ed.D. program) is certainly just as strong as it is in the traditional Ph.D. program," Craycraft said, "it is more centered on the problems that occur, and the needs that arise, in the local communities where our doctoral students will be working."

"We will be working with the communities to help resolve, solve and improve educational opportunities for the state's and nation's children," Craycraft said.

Another unique attribute of SHSU's doctoral proposal--and an aspect that probably aided its initial approval by the THECB--is the program's interdisciplinary structure.

Curriculum for students enrolled in SHSU's doctorate of education program will encompass studies in education, business, computer science, political science and mathematics. The involvement of several colleges and academic departments in the program not only strengthens the curriculum, Craycraft said, it also provides for sounder fiscal accountability.

"One of the things the Coordinating Board is very insistent upon is the fact that universities must live within their financial resources," said the dean. "By utilizing the strengths within the university--involving more departments in other colleges--we show our sensitivity to taxpayers and a concern for the state's financial resources while addressing the needs of our students and also showcasing the strengths of our faculty campus-wide."

"We are very fortunate on this campus to have a tremendously well-known and extensively published faculty who contribute, not only at the state, but at the national level," said the dean. "When you have that type of strength and depth on your faculty, it makes the pursuit of additional programs much more reasonable."

Because the program involves so many SHSU academic departments, Craycraft said, credit for the doctoral program's proposal is widely dispersed.

"It was truly a campus-wide effort," said Craycraft, who spearheaded the application process. Among those to whom the proposal's initial success can be attributed, he said, are Dr. Bobby K. Marks, SHSU president; Dr. Genevieve Brown, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership; Dr. James Gilmore, vice president of SHSU's Department of Academic Affairs; and the SHSU faculty involved in the program's development.

"Every program throughout campus will benefit by the addition of this doctoral program," said Craycraft. "We are very excited about the opportunities associated with it."


Media Contact: Phillip Rollfing

Oct. 24, 1996