California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

New Doctorate in Educational Leadership Program Launching in Santa Maria

California Lutheran University’s Santa Maria satellite school is launching a doctorate program in educational leadership this June. The program has been at Cal Lutheran’s main campus in Thousand Oaks for 10 years, but is now expanding northward, offering an Ed.D. in K-12 educational leadership to locals of Santa Maria and the surrounding areas.

Santa Maria Instructor and Program Director Victoria Kelly  said the three-year program is for K-12 educational leaders. She said the program is a hybrid, with 60 percent of meetings in-person and 40 percent online. Kelly said classes will meet once a month on Friday evenings and the following Saturdays, with the rest of the time dedicated to research and one-on-one mentorship with instructors.

“It is developed and designed for the working professional. So, what we develop the program for  is that people can work full time while still taking the coursework to finish their degree in an accelerated time frame of three years,” Kelly said.

Mike Hillis, dean and professor of the Graduate School of Education at Cal Lutheran, said that the first cohort will be a small group of 10 to 15 students. After the group completes the program, the program’s approach will be assessed before accepting another class of students. Hillis hopes that the small cohort will allow closer communication and instruction for the students.

“A lot of doctoral programs, like the one I went through, is that you do all of your coursework, and then you’re basically just on your own to do your research. Here we’ve bettered it in the classes so they get more hands-on support from their faculty,” Hillis said.

Hillis said the goal of the program is to deepen the students’ understanding of the educational system and find a more effective path to improving it. He said that creating change may be a challenge in educational institutions, and the educational leadership program has been designed to learn how to overcome those roadblocks to better education.

“My vision would be that people that come out of our doctoral program have a deeper sense of how to actually implement change processes, because one of the things you end up realizing is that institutions move very slowly and because they move so slowly… it oftentimes stops change from occurring. We’re making sure people come out of our program and are able to affect that sort of change,” Hillis said.

Kelly said that a doctorate program is long overdue in Santa Maria, as the city and surrounding areas continue to thrive. Kelly said the program will allow many local educational leaders a path to growing in their profession.

“Santa Maria is really growing rapidly and they’re expanding the school districts… and there are not a lot of universities that are in the area, so it’s really a need for the area. I’ve been told that a lot that people don’t have a place to go without having to travel two to three hours if they want to advance their career,” Kelly said.

Edlyn Peña, an associate professor of educational leadership at Cal Lutheran, said that since this is Cal Lutheran’s first Ed.D. program outside the Thousand Oaks campus, the main concern is that people may not yet be aware of the program.

“I’m excited that we’re offering the program to reach more people… we’re just hoping that we have a lot of applicants. For it to be successful, we definitely need a good group of solid applicants to move forward with starting the first cohort this summer,” Peña said.

Peña hopes that the new program will encourage more educational leaders to get an Ed.D. and then effectively use the skills they acquired in K-12 schools.

“Hopefully with more educators getting their doctorates in that area it would be wonderful to see results in terms of more leadership and more capable leaders who really have been equipped through our program to lead in stronger ways and solve lots of the issues that schools face in terms of educational inequities,” Peña said.

Devynn Belter

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