WMU News

Two new doctoral programs to be offered this fall

April 1, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Starting this fall, Western Michigan University students will have two new doctoral programs to choose from as well as a new concentration within an existing doctoral program and a new graduate certificate program.

Acting at their March 28 meeting, WMU trustees authorized the creation of doctor of philosophy degrees in evaluation, educational leadership with a higher education concentration, and Spanish and creation of a graduate certificate program in ethnohistory.

The Ph.D. in evaluation is a collaborative effort of WMU's Evaluation Center and colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education, Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Health and Human Services, and as such, is believed to be the world's only truly interdisciplinary Ph.D. in evaluation. The approximately 90-credit-hour program is designed to address society's growing need for doctoral-level evaluation specialists who can work in a variety of sectors to identify "what works" and how to improve products, services, systems, policies and programs.

The Evaluation Center will be the administrative home base for the program and serve as a hands-on learning laboratory for the students who enroll. The center, already recognized as a national and international leader in advancing the theory and practice of evaluation, currently holds about $5 million in evaluation-related contracts.

"By the time students graduate, they'll have had high-level evaluation experience and be able to hit the ground running as competent practitioners," says Dr. E. Jane Davidson, Evaluation Center associate director. "But we're not just training people to be great practicing evaluators; our goal is to develop and send out the next generation of 'thought leaders' in this relatively young discipline."

Davidson notes that the Evaluation Center's founder and former director, Dr. Daniel L. Stufflebeam, help spearhead the new program and will have significant involvement in its continued development in his current role as a Distinguished University Professor at WMU.

"Our program's unique combination of an interdisciplinary approach and real-world practice-linked learning goes far beyond what even the top programs offer in the evaluation field today," Davidson says. "The program is going to make one of the biggest splashes in the recent history of evaluation--all eyes are on us."

The Ph.D. in educational leadership with a concentration in higher education leadership is being offered by the Department of Teaching, Learning and Leadership. It complements the existing doctor of education degree in educational leadership, which has concentrations in superintendent, central office administration, career and technical education, and general educational leadership.

The new concentration allows WMU to offer a Ph.D. in educational leadership in addition to the existing Ed.D. It is designed to provide a terminal degree for administrators, faculty and others who are employed or aspire to be employed in adult-learning environments.

"This is something that the west side of Michigan hasn't focused on before," says Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer, professor of teaching, learning and leadership. "At least 50 percent of the people who are interested in the program are existing faculty at community colleges or other non-research universities. We've also been getting calls from people in library science, student affairs, program development--even food service. They've got the expertise and experience in their subject areas, but the new Ph.D. provides a context for the broader leadership and educational policy issues."

Although there are similar offerings at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, Palmer says WMU's program will be the only one crafted to meet the educational needs of people who are already working in higher education. In addition, working professionals will also be supported through the use of delivery formats such as online and intensive summer courses.

The Ph.D. in Spanish is being offered by the Department of Spanish in part to enhance students' comprehension and appreciation of the breadth and uniqueness of Hispanic culture. It is expected to attract students who plan to seek positions in colleges and universities.

Enrollment in Spanish programs has increased dramatically across the country during the past two decades, and currently, the demand for new Spanish Ph.D. recipients exceeds the supply. At WMU, the annual number of Spanish majors rose 600 percent between 1981 and 2001, while enrollment in undergraduate and graduate Spanish classes jumped from 389 students to 1,400.

The new Spanish Ph.D. will require at least 36 credit hours of course work beyond a master's degree in Spanish, including reading knowledge of a language other than Spanish and English and a six-month teaching, study or residential experience in a Spanish-speaking country.

The Graduate Certificate Program in Ethnohistory is a joint collaboration offered by the departments of Anthropology and History. It is intended to supplement graduate-level study by allowing students to focus specifically on ethnohistory, which applies research techniques and theoretical approaches from the fields of anthropology and history to the study of cultures.

The program will require 15 credit hours of course work and be especially useful to individuals pursuing employment in such organizations as museums, archives and libraries or seeking interdisciplinary work and intellectual breadth beyond a single discipline.

Media contact: Gail Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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