Southern Arkansas University is once again poised to offer a unique new program based on regional industry support, yet this degree, if approved, will change the University’s role and scope and lead to the creation of SAU’s first doctoral degree.
Although still early in the lengthy process of enacting the Doctor of Education (EdD), the SAU Board of Trustees has approved SAU’s role and scope change and the University has made its initial presentation to the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board at a recent meeting in Mountain Home.
The approval by the Board of Trustees was fueled in part by the strong show of support from two employer and prospective student surveys. SAU’s EdD would be the first such program in all of south Arkansas, and educational institutions from throughout the southern and southwestern part of the state responded with strong interest to the first survey. A total of 113 educators and administrators from the following school districts expressed enthusiasm at the possibility of being able to enroll or hire graduates from SAU’s proposed EdD program: Hope, Junction City, Horatio, Camden, Texarkana, Nevada, Ashdown, Magnolia, Fouke, Foreman, Stamps, and Mineral Springs.
The second survey proved strong support from within the University, as 26 faculty, staff, and administrators indicated a very strong interest in pursuing doctoral study at SAU. “Not only do these results suggest that our own employees would be a ready source of program participants, but they also serve as a more general indicator of the attractiveness of a local doctoral program to area educators and staff members at all institutional levels,” said SAU Provost Dr. David Lanoue.
Also supporting the case for this new education degree are the University’s steady enrollment increases, dating back more than a decade, as well as a dramatic recent uptick in enrollments among SAU’s current graduate programs in the College of Education. From fall 2016 to fall 2017, these programs experienced a leap from 292 to 407 students enrolled – nearly a 40% increase.
Dr. Kim Bloss, dean of the SAU School of Graduate Studies, adds that although the EdD will be offered by the College of Education, application to the program will be open to all master’s degree holders.
Although anticipation is high both at SAU and across the region, Lanoue maintains his focus is on the present and on the official processes still needing to be completed for SAU to be approved for the EdD. Three or four outside reviewers are coming to campus to evaluate the proposal and provide a report to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, and there will be at least one more meeting of the Coordinating Board before approval will be decided. Next, the Higher Learning Commission in Chicago will review and decide on the program’s approval, which could take up to another year, said Lanoue. “The earliest that this program could possibly get off the ground would be Fall 2019,” said Lanoue.
That timeline offers prospective students the chance to complete a master’s degree in preparation for their SAU EdD application. Visit www.SAUmag.edu/graduate to see the complete list of online or on-campus programs.