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Coordinating Board Approves Fifth Doctorate

As Texas’ population continues to grow rapidly and schools at all levels see higher enrollments, there will be a correspondingly increasing need for teachers in the reading and reading curriculum fields, according to Debra Price, associate professor in SHSU’s language, literacy and special populations department.

“There were over 80 openings just this year for faculty alone in the field of reading, and I think we graduated somewhere around 18 to 20 in the state. And that’s just in the state of Texas; we’re not even talking about the nation,” Price said. “In the state of Texas alone, if ‘Closing the Gaps’ works at all and we keep the student-professor ratio at about where it is right now, we will need somewhere around 5,000 new faculty members in the next 15 years.”

To alleviate this need, Sam Houston State University has developed a Doctorate of Education and Reading, which was unanimously approved Thursday (July 20) morning by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as the university’s fifth doctoral program.

“We are delighted to see the approval of our doctoral program in reading. It builds on an exceptionally strong and well-received master’s degree program and recognizes the excellence of Sam Houston State,” said provost and vice president for Academic Affairs David Payne. “We believe that it will serve a critical need in the Houston area and move to national prominence.”

Twelve students will begin the first 60-hour Ed.D. program this August, which will include a curriculum that combines doctoral-level reading courses with courses of educational leadership and statistics and culminates in the traditional finish of qualifying exams, oral exams, a proposal, a defense and a dissertation.

The doctorate will prepare people for three different career tracts: a curriculum-level administrative position for a school district, a leadership-level position at a community college dealing with adult literacy level issues and developmental reading and writing issues, or a university faculty professor.

“Reading is a high priority,” said College of Education dean Genevieve Brown, “and we will be training leaders in reading for both public schools and community colleges, as well as professors for university reading programs who would train reading teachers.”

While many universities offer doctorates in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in reading, SHSU will be the only university in the state to offer a doctorate specifically in reading, according to Price.

“Texas A&M has a curriculum and instruction degree with a reading component; same with the University of Houston, I believe,” Price said. “When you look at the surrounding area, we have a huge need for doctoral level programs that allow people to work, to do their jobs and get this other degree.”

What makes the program especially unique is its strong leadership component, having students take classes from SHSU’s doctorate in educational leadership program.

“To really make strong curriculum leaders, we want people with a strong curriculum emphasis, somebody who understands the complexities of reading, the scientific research that has been done on the field of reading, somebody who really had that level of understanding on the curriculum leadership level,” Price said. “The educational leadership component was planned for that particular strand specifically so that we could have that next step from building-level literacy leaders to district-level literacy leaders.”

These professional areas are in high demand not only in Texas but across the country, according to Brown.

“There is a scarcity of graduates of doctoral programs in reading,” Brown said. “We’re a rapidly growing state, and the school districts within close proximity to us are rapidly growing, so there is such a need for more advanced training for people to serve those districts and agencies within this area.”

Because community colleges have also been affected by the growth spurt of Texas population-wise, the need for professionals in the field is far-reaching.

“I think that just from the university faculty position, we know what community colleges are doing,” Price said. “Community colleges are booming and one of the down sides is the need for the developmental reading programs, the programs for those students who aren’t necessarily coming out of high school with all the literacy skills they need to be successful; that need is only going to continue to grow.”

Both Brown and Price said they had no problems attracting students to fill a first cohort for the program, with alumni and even school districts requesting that SHSU develop such a program.

“We just feel that we are being responsive to a need in the profession, and that’s very important to us. Our mission is service to the schools; in education we focus on serving the needs of school districts,” Brown said. “We have a very high-quality faculty in our reading program, and we feel that this will enable them to further share their expertise and experience to enhance reading programs and enhance their impact.

“We’re so pleased because we know that we will offer a quality program, and we know that we have people who want this,” she said. “We’ve always had a strong education college. Education was the historic mission of this university, so I think that’s part of it.”

Price said coordinating board’s approval of its fifth doctoral degree is something to be proud of.

“Sam Houston State University is so well situated for the doctoral programs we have, and that was really obvious when you listen to the comments at the Higher Ed Coordinating Board. He’s (The board commissioner is) looking specifically at institutions that are creating the programs but are following their mission, which this does for Sam Houston State, and they’re looking at programs that are successful,” she said. “We are building on some really successful doctoral programs that are already in place that fit our mission. I can’t tell you how proud I was of the way we stacked up against not only other regional universities but against the big ones.”

Courses for the degree will be available on the SHSU campus or at the University Center in The Woodlands.

For more information on the Doctorate of Education and Reading degree or to apply for the program, visit


SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt
July 21, 2006
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