BY RONALD HANAKI
SC Staff Writer
On March 13, an information session on ESU’s D.Ed. program in Administration and Leadership Studies (ALS) was held in Lower Dansbury.
The doctorate in Administration and Leadership Studies is designed to prepare people to become future superintendents of school districts and K-16 educational leaders.
The event was hosted by Kevin Quintero, the graduate college’s admissions coordinator, and Dr. Douglas Lare and Dr. Patricia Smeaton of ESU’s Professional and Secondary Education Department.
The ALS program first started in 1999 after several years of joint collaborative planning by Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and East Stroudsburg University.
Although all coursework is done on campus at ESU through ESU’s Professional and Secondary Education department, the actual degree is conferred by IUP.
In time, ESU may be the one conferring the doctorate, but for now, IUP is the only university in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) school system that is legally authorized to award doctorates.
The ALS program is ready to accept new students, also known as cohorts, again beginning this summer.
One academic letter of recommendation and one professional letter of recommendation are required of all applicants. The application deadline is Monday, April 14. The ALS program accepts new students every two years.
The ALS program has an 88% graduation rate. Every accepted doctoral candidate is grouped together with other cohorts. The next group of students will be labeled as Cohort 7.
The cohort program is intended to foster a culture of support and collaborative learning among the students. This is touted as a very important aspect of the program.
The support for fellow cohorts extends beyond the program. Greg Troxell is the principal of Phillipsburg (New Jersey) High School and is part of the ALS program. When Phillipsburg High School became mired in a wrestling scandal earlier in the year, the first calls of support came from Troxell’s fellow cohorts in ESU’s ALS program.
There have been six cohorts so far. Cohorts 1 and 2 have graduated. Cohort 3 is almost finished. Cohorts 4 and 5 are working on their dissertations, and Cohort 6 is still taking classes.
The coursework itself takes 3 years to complete. There are 51 credits of coursework, and at least 9 more credits for a dissertation.
Each term, the doctoral candidate will take 6 credits worth of classes. For in-state students, the tuition is estimated to be $442 per credit. For out-of-state students, the tuition is estimated to be $663 per credit.
Classes meet from 4 PM to 10 PM on Fridays and from 8 AM 4 PM on Saturdays once every 4 weeks. The coursework aims to combine theory and practice.
There will also be overnight cohort leadership retreats in Gettysburg and Bethlehem. The cohort retreats offer the doctoral candidate the time and opportunity to bond with other cohorts and to think deeply about his or her course of study.
The doctoral candidate’s initial dissertation work is expected to continue throughout the coursework. Dr. Lare is said to be relentless in asking his students, “What do you want to do your dissertation on?” Moreover, successful completion of a qualifying exam after one year is required to progress in the program.
The doctoral candidate’s dissertation has to be defended against a committee consisting of one ESU chair, 1 IUP chair, and at least one other committee member.
Dr. Lare and Dr. Smeaton said that these defenses are so memorable that people can be moved to tears just from watching a dissertation defense.
It is expected that the doctoral candidate complete the degree in 7 years although an additional year extension may be granted. Most people take 5 to 7 years to complete the program, but one woman was able to complete her doctoral dissertation in just one year and three months.
The night ended with several testimonials from cohort members and alumni extolling the virtues of the ALS program. Some of these people work at ESU like Dr. Nancy Jo Greenawalt (2012) in the Athletic Department and Alicia Middleton in Career Development. All emphasized that going through the ALS program is a “transforming experience.”
Dr. Greg Farley (2012) stood up and referred to a Zen koan that said, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”
Dr. Farley went on to credit the ALS program for inspiring him and transforming and expanding his teaching skills. He now teaches graduate courses at Monmouth College and Drew University in New Jersey and absolutely loves his job.
Dr. John Toleno (2005) began the ALS program in 1999 and graduated in 2005 with his doctorate. He is now the superintendent of the Stroudsburg Area School District. He stood up and said, “I don’t want to sound too cocky, but once you are done with the program, you can pretty much write your own ticket.”
Dr. Toleno praised the cohort system but also said, “Once you are done with the program, you are on your own. So you pretty much have to be self-motivated.”
The original intent of the ALS program was to prepare people to become school superintendents. Upon successful completion of the program, one can apply for the Superintendent’s Letter of Eligibility. In addition, the Pennsylvania State Department of Education requires 5 years of educational administrative experience.
Email Ronald at: