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Research & Reality

Research & RealityMorgan State takes two-prong approach to stemming educational leadership deficit.BALTIMORE
Juanita Eagleson, a former associate dean at Southeastern University in Washington, was in the midst of a  “career doldrums” when she heard that Dr. Howard Simmons, the former executive director of the Commission on Higher Education, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, was heading up the new doctoral program in higher education at Morgan State University. Eagleson, who had once worked with Simmons, was eager to expand her career options and decided to enroll in the new program.
“The opportunity to work with (Simmons) in an academic/research setting truly sparked my interest and enthusiasm,” she says. Eagleson, a Howard University graduate, is looking to work in curriculum design and assessment to “explore new models of assessing outcomes, particularly as they might be applied to HBCUs.”
When Barney Wilson, then a faculty member at Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) at Dundalk, heard about the Ed.D. program in community college leadership, he had been teaching for 13 years, was ready for something new and more entrepreneurial, and was considering leaving the field. While attending an organizational meeting about the Ed.D. program, he heard Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail’s vision for the program and started thinking about the possibilities of leading an institution. 
“She was excited about the program and the possibilities,” he says. “I saw her as an incredible leader.” When he learned that she had served as a community college president, he was sold. “I thought, what an opportunity to learn from a college president,” he says. Wilson, a member of the program’s first graduating cohort, since has moved into administration and is now the dean of learning and student development at CCBC.
Eagleson and Wilson represent the higher education leaders for the future that Morgan State University is seeking for its two unique doctoral programs in higher education.   
The doctorate in higher education, the newest program, seeks to prepare students as researchers, policy analysts and administrators while the three-year-old Ed.D. in community college leadership seeks to prepare tomorrow’s community college presidents. With more college presidents expected to retire soon, the Morgan State programs will likely play a key role in filling the pipeline.
“We’re talking about the next generation of leaders for staffing the administration and management of universities,” says Dr. Earl Richardson, president of Morgan State University. “For both HBCU and majority institutions as well. If they are going to achieve diversity in their staffing, they are going to have a larger pool from which to draw. Our objective is to broaden that pool,” he says.
Such programs are needed because the percentage of African Americans on college and university faculty is very small, particularly in predominantly White institutions, says Dr. Anne Pruitt-Logan, scholar in residence and co-director of the Preparing Future Faculty program for the Council of Graduate Schools.
“The Ph.D. programs are going to produce the faculty,” Pruitt-Logan says. “We need to bring the perspective of African Americans to research in education. The more we can do to prepare the large numbers needed, the better.”
With nearly 45 percent of current community college presidents expected to retire within the next five years, and with a declining number of candidates seeking the presidency, programs such as Morgan’s are crucial, says Dr. John E. Roueche, the Sid W. Richardson Regents Chair and director of the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin.
“The timing can not be better,” Roueche says. He adds that Morgan’s location in Baltimore and near Washington, and Philadelphia will help the university attract the population it is after. “They should find great success in placing these students who want to get in community college leadership work.”   The Doctorate in Higher Education
Morgan’s new Ph.D. in higher education program, scheduled to enroll its first class this fall, will focus on higher education as a field of study and prepare faculty,  researchers and administrators.  It is the only Ph.D. program in higher education at an HBCU.  
“The degree is different in that it is a research doctorate in higher education with the purpose to train people as faculty, policy analysts and for higher education management,” says Dr. Howard L. Simmons, professor and coordinator of the program.
Simmons says Morgan’s program is the only one at an HBCU with the focus of teaching higher education as a field of study. In general, most doctorates in higher education are Ed.D.s, he says, and prepare for higher education administration.
To fulfill part of Morgan’s mission as an urban institution, one unique feature of the program will be the integration of the African American experience in higher education throughout the program, in particular in its historical foundations course. “Often the mainstream programs don’t do this,” Simmons says. 
Another unique feature is that the program will put a great emphasis on and provide much support in preparing students to be researchers.     
“We believe strongly that because people have been afraid of statistics and haven’t had the opportunity to get involved in research — a lot of students will not have some of these experiences,” Simmons says. “We feel that it is important to fortify their knowledge skills in research methodology. They also will need to learn how to do ethnographic research.”
In addition to his 21 years with the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Simmons brings experience in higher education that includes community college leadership, higher education strategic planning and management, accreditation and outcomes assessment and research on diversity in higher education issues. 
Simmons says the Ph.D. in Higher Education program would also focus on diversity and multiculturalism in higher education.
 “I think (Morgan) is positioned to do a great service not only in documenting the contributions of African Americans in higher education, but others as well,”  he says.  
All students will be required to carry out at least one research project focusing on the African American experience in higher education, Simmons says. “We have to start producing people who are knowledgeable about our culture and focus,” he says. “We have to unapologetically do some of this research ourselves.”
One of the unique features about the program is that it is competency based, Simmons says. The program draws candidates who are working or have experience working in some aspect of higher education. The application process is designed to get a sense of the knowledge, skills and abilities candidates already possess. 
For instance, lawyers pursuing the degree may choose to bypass elective courses dealing with legal issues; however, if they don’t have a strong background in working in student administration, they can take a course to strengthen knowledge in that area.
Another unique feature will be the required collaborative field research project. Students will develop a research project in collaboration with an external institution or organization. The project should be related to students’ research interests.
The first class, scheduled for this fall, will be made up of approximately 10 to 12 students, Simmons says. Because the program is developing, the focus is on quality and having the faculty available to meet students’ needs, he says.  
 “We decided that we wouldn’t concentrate on numbers,” Simmons explains. “You have to make sure you have the faculty to attend to students’ needs.”
“We plan to add about five students a year in continuous enrollment — we will admit students each semester,”  he adds.  
Simmons is in the process of recruiting faculty, primarily from other places. “You have to start with people who have experience directing dissertation and research,” he says. “You have to find people who are already out there. We plan to add junior faculty as the program grows.” 
Thus far, the program, which has had minimal advertising, has attracted some very qualified students. Students admitted to the first class include a doctor of optometry, a J.D., and others who hold two masters’ degrees. Classes will be held in the evenings to accommodate the students who are working professionals. Many classes also will incorporate a Web-based component. 
Simmons says the experiences of these adult professionals will help make the program. “It’s not just the faculty,” he says. “The student quality adds to the program quality.”
In August, the doctoral program will hold an open house to introduce students to the public and to recruit other students interested in the program. Plans are under way to create a master’s program in higher education.    Preparing Tomorrow’s
Community College Leaders
Morgan’s three-year-old Ed.D. program in community college leadership is geared toward preparing the next generation of community college presidents.
“AACC (American Association of Community Colleges)  has indicated that 45 percent of sitting presidents will retire in the next four to seven years,” says Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail, professor, coordinator and creator of the program. “We’re preparing students for senior level positions — particularly the vice president and community college president. Some of our students are already deans and coordinators.  We believe we are putting them on the fast track.”
The Ed.D. in community college leadership is a cohort, weekend program. Six members of the first cohort graduated in May. Because the community college is often viewed as “an appendage” in higher education administration programs, McPhail says programs specific to community colleges are needed to understand these unique institutions’ concerns.
“It’s important to understand the multi-faceted mission of the community college,” McPhail says. “The student population is not homogeneous. We have a diverse student body; we have diverse learning styles. Students come in at a variety of levels at a community college. Senior-level administrators need to have an understanding of diverse populations.”
One of the primary challenges in starting any new program is internal and external credibility.  University of Texas’ Roueche says Morgan’s appointment should go a long way toward helping in that area.
“Morgan made an outstanding selection in Dr. McPhail,” Roueche says. “Hopefully that selection is going to assure the program’s internal credibility. You also have to have external credibility. She brings both to the program.”  
McPhail has received many honors for her work with community colleges and the African American community. She is the co-author with her husband, Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail — also a community college president — of Transforming Classroom Practice for African American Learners: Implications for the Learning Paradigm. This article won the 2000 Research Award from the Maryland Association for Adult, Community and Continuing Education.
While serving as dean of students at Kings River Community College in Reedley, Calif., McPhail created a model Retention Assistance Program (RAP). This program was designed to attract and retain African American males in college. Other colleges in the state of California later replicated this project. 
In 2001, Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening awarded McPhail the Governor’s Citation in recognition of her contributions to higher education in the State of Maryland.
The Community College Leadership program is designed to help future administrators understand the demands of faculty members as well as the unique role of the community college board of trustees, McPhail says. The program also helps Morgan carry out its unique urban initiative, she adds.
“We are attracting a diverse population — African American men in large numbers, which we think is very unique,” McPhail says. In the recent graduating class, there were three African American males, two White females and one African American female.
McPhail, the former president and chief instructional officer for Cypress College in California and a community college graduate herself, was tapped by Morgan State President Earl Richardson to create a program that would take into account Morgan’s unique mission as an urban institution. Part of that meant developing a program for working professionals interested in pursuing a doctorate. The program meets on the weekends — Friday evenings and Saturday. 
The program is structured as a cohort model to not only provide students with the support of other students going through the program, but also preparing them to work and participate in teams, McPhail says. For example, in a student development course, the cohort assumed the role of an accreditation team and evaluated all aspects of a college as a team. 
The program also strongly emphasizes real-world experience in the field by bringing in current community college presidents and leaders to teach courses.
“Some of our courses are taught by community college presidents and chancellors,” McPhail notes. “Our students go to the AACC conventions when they can.  We took 19 students to the recent convention in Seattle.”
The chance to learn from and interact with community college presidents — particularly African Americans — appealed to Barney Wilson, who graduated from the program in May.
“As an African American male, I hadn’t seen many African American college presidents,” he says. Such exposure has inspired him to pursue a community college presidency, he says.
Many of the classes are held at various community colleges around the area.  Ed.D. candidates learn everything about running a community college, including developing curriculum, a budget, accrediting an institution, and working effectively with the board of trustees.
“One of the key features is that we work hard to combine theory and practice,” McPhail says. “Many programs focus primarily on a textbook understanding. We know that you need to be grounded from a theoretical perspective, but you also need to know how to apply it.”
Dr. Donald G. Phelps, W.K. Kellogg Professor of Community College Leadership at the University of Texas at Austin, says Morgan’s chances for success are “excellent.” Noting that HBCUs and community colleges are forming more collaborations, he says, the historically Black institutions are no longer seen as siphons by community colleges. There is growing recognition of the value of community colleges, Phelps says.
 “I think Morgan is leading the way — I think we will see others doing the same thing.” 

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