School of Education Confers First Doctoral Degrees in College History

When the Saint Mary's College School of Education held its commencement ceremonies in May, three historic degrees were awarded: Susan Craig, Kristin Elgen and Carolyn Frederick became the first graduates of the SOE's doctoral program in educational leadership.

The doctorate in education in leadership was established to provide doctoral-level degrees for people working in leadership positions in education field or planning to do so. The program is unusual, said Director Kaetlyn Lad, because it is designed for professionals whose interests are broader than in K-12 education.

"We prepare people for leadership in K-12 and other schools, and also for teaching in smaller universities that are not major research institutions," said Lad. "This is a good degree, for example, for nurses who want to teach in a nursing program."

Craig, principal of Community Day School in the Vallejo Unified School District, had already earned a master's degree and a teaching credential at Saint Mary's College. "I already knew Saint Mary's had an excellent program," she said, adding that she was unaware of a similar program at her "other" alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley.

"I pursued the degree for personal and professional growth," said Craig. "I'm the first person in my family, on either my father or my mother's side, to earn a professional degree, so it was a challenge to myself to go beyond what I've already done. I do have an interest in working in higher education, so this opens the door to working in higher education."

The program began in 2000, and about 70 students currently enrolled. Classes are held on weekends, and students must complete three years of course work, followed by a dissertation.

"I wanted this to be a program that was credible and had high standards," said Lad, "and I think these dissertations will compare to any dissertations anywhere. I'll stand them up against any other dissertations. And that's what I'm proud of."

Lad also feels indebted to the ground-breaking graduates. She took up her position as director 2000 when they began their studies.

"I started with them," she recalled. "They were the first group and we sort of built the program together. Without their help, we wouldn't have succeeded."

-- by Joseph Wakelee-Lynch
College Communications