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SHSU Receives Approval
For Fourth Doctorate

Growing up these days is not easy, but it may become less difficult as the result of a new doctoral program at Sam Houston State University.

Sam Houston State University has received approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to offer a Ph. D. in counselor education, which will be one of only six such programs in Texas and the only one in the Houston area.

The new doctorate will be Sam Houston State's fourth. The others include Ph. Ds. in criminal justice and forensic psychology, and the Ed. D. in educational leadership.

"Adolescence is a stressful situation," said Rick Bruhn, professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling. "In addition to dealing with troublesome home situations, adolescents face peer pressure, pressures to succeed academically, or may be victims of bullying or other crimes. All of these factors can affect their school performance and future."

Events such as the Columbine shootings, accidental deaths of classmates, or family turmoil often require counseling.

"About 50 percent of all kids, at some time during their educational process, will be living with a single parent," said Bruhn.

"Not only do counselors help adolescents and children deal with life's problems, they support healthy development and success in the educational process," he said.

"Adults also benefit from counseling for a wide spectrum of problems and life issues from re-marriage to unemployment to substance abuse to domestic violence, to name just a few."

The Sam Houston State University program will address such problems in two ways. The program will train professionals capable of employment as directors of counseling and guidance programs in large school districts, or as counselor educators specializing in training school counselors at the graduate level of colleges and universities.

Students in the counselor educator track may also develop expertise in areas such as community mental health and marriage and family therapy.

Employment of educational, vocational, and school counselors is expected to grow faster than many other professions through 2010, as a result of increasing student enrollments, particularly in secondary and postsecondary schools, state legislation requiring counselors in elementary schools, and the expansion of the responsibilities of counselors.

More Ph. D. graduates are now needed for openings in school districts and agencies, and the number is expected to increase. The program at SHSU is expected to enroll approximately 34 students by its fifth year of operation. Applications will be taken beginning this fall, with the first group of nine students selected to begin their studies in June 2003.

Bruhn said the counseling doctorate was a natural for SHSU because of the university's successful master's program in counselor education, which has an enrollment of 137 students.

Approval for the program was granted after James Gaertner, SHSU president, proposed the addition of three additional senior faculty members and expenditure of more than $1.5 million for the first five years.

"We are extremely pleased that the Coordinating Board has approved our proposal," said Gaertner. "Sam Houston State's historical emphasis has been education, and this is an area of great need as we attempt to close the educational gaps in our society."

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SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
April 24, 2002
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