Legislation grants CSU first doctorate program

    In unprecedented legislation, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation that would grant the California State University system the right to issue educational doctorates.

    Jason Campa/Guardian
    Teaching trio:

    The bill, SB 724, is the first to give the university the right to grant a doctorate, and marks a departure from California’s Master Plan for Higher Education, drafted in 1960.

    The Master Plan had originally awarded individual doctoral programs solely to University of California, while the California State University were to participate only in joint programs with UC campuses.

    While the Master Plan has been a time-honored document, it has outlived its usefulness, according to San Diego State University Dean of Graduate Studies Jan Andersen.

    “The Master Plan has served California well, but times change and needs change,” Andersen said. “We believe that the Master Plan has served its purpose, and its rigidity does not make sense.”

    Because of the document, the California State University has not been able to accommodate the needs of students seeking schooling in education, a realm largely ignored by the University of California, Andersen said.

    “In California, most of educational doctorates take place in private colleges,” she said. “It’s been difficult across the state to find partners in UC. CSU has a great deal more history and background in education and educational programs.”

    San Diego State and Cal State San Marcos currently has a joint educational doctorate program with UCSD, which admitted its first class in January 2005.

    While UCSD’s partnership with San Diego State is one of the most productive in the state, the legislation is designed to target other subpar programs, according to Wendy Gordon, spokeswoman for bill author state Sen. Jack Scott (D-Pasadena).

    “A few UC schools have joint doctorate programs,” Gordon said. “But those programs are few and far between and don’t handle very many people. If you need a doctorate in education to be an administrator in high school or community college, it is hard to get them at a California public school. Those wh o want them would have to go out of state or go to a private school, which costs a lot of money — and CSU is the perfect place for students to furthur their career aspirations in education .”

    Because of budget constraints, UC campuses have been reluctant to expand their joint doctoral programs, Gordon said.

    There are currently 22 joint doctoral programs between the UC and CSU campuses, and seven of those are in educational leadership, according to UC Office of the President spokesman Brad Hayward.

    Difficulties in establishing partnerships between the two university systems stem from nuances, according to UCSD Director of Education Studies Randall J. Souviney.

    “Both CSU and UC want partnerships to happen, but with any new program that tries to work across two systems, there are a lot of logistical difficulties,” he said. “But it’s especially hard for CSU campuses that aren’t even near a UC school.”

    Originally, the bill would have allowed CSU campuses to run audiology and physical therapy doctorate programs, an effort opposed by the University of California because the idea clashed with the Master Plan, according to Hayward.

    “Our concern was that the state continue to comply with the Master Plan, which has proved very effective in making high-quality education available to students at a cost that is affordable to the state, rather than encouraging costly duplication of programs across the segments of higher education,” Hayward stated in an e-mail. “In the case of the [education degrees], we concluded that CSU intended to offer a very specific kind of degree, and one that was distinct from the kind of education doctoral degree that UC offers and will continue to offer.”

    San Diego State plans to continue its partnership with UCSD for educational doctorates, although the school plans to diverge to create its own individual program, Andersen said.

    “There are some areas in educational leadership we’ve thought of developing that UCSD would not be interested in,” she said. “We’re particularly interested in community college leadership, which is not a primary focus for UCSD.”

    Andersen projects the establishment of an independent San Diego State program, with emphasis in community college administration, for fall 2007.

    If San Diego State did decide to establish its own program in education, UCSD would not deviate from its current partnership, according to UCSD Director of Graduate Studies Richard Attiyeh. There are currently eight joint doctoral programs between UCSD and San Diego State.

    Andersen said she hopes that the latest legislation is a move toward even more doctoral programs being offered solely by the California State University, if needs arise, despite the Master Plan restrictions.

    “In order for us to do anything, it takes legislative change,” she said. “We hope to investigate and reassess the Master Plan to address the needs of the state. If there are fields or areas that seem to require development, we will seek legislative change to allow us to establish a doctoral program to accommodate that. We don’t believe in arbitrary bounds set in 1960s.”

    The introduction of the legislation, however, was not meant to change the state objectives established by the Master Plan, according to Gordon.

    “The CSU system, which has many more campuses that would be able to offer an educational doctorate, needed this bill,” she said. “[Scott] does not believe this bill would damage the Master Plan in any way, shape or form. In this day and age, when public school education is under such public scrutiny, it is important that we establish a way for leaders to come into administration in any way.”

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