University of Wisconsin-Stout received permission Friday to offer the first doctoral degree in the university’s history.
The UW System Board of Regents unanimously approved a proposal allowing UW-Stout to establish a doctor of education degree in career and technical education. The meeting was held in Madison.
“This degree is compatible with our history, and it also is compatible with our mission,” Jackie Weissenburger, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, told the board’s Education Committee Thursday.
Weissenburger said UW-Stout decided to offer the degree after carefully considering the demand for the program. It was clear that administrators within the Wisconsin Technical College System would avail themselves of the degree offering, she said.
“This will be great for us,” said Robert Meyer, president of the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. “This will be a natural step for our staff. I’ve got many candidates on my staff who are ready for this next step.”
Weissenburger detailed UW-Stout’s long history, dating back to 1935, in educating those interested in careers in the state’s technical colleges. Adding a doctoral degree is a natural step, she said, pointing to the bachelor’s, master’s and educational specialist degrees in career and technical education UW-Stout already offers.
The goal of the doctoral degree is to help those involved in technical education advance their careers, Weissenburger said, as opposed to a research-based doctorate. “This particular degree is a career-focused degree,” she said.
In March 2007 the Board of Regents designated UW-Stout as Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University. The degree proposal “also falls within our polytechnic designation,” Weissenburger added.
The new degree needs approval of the Higher Learning Commission, UW-Stout’s accreditation body. Because of that, it is unclear exactly when the program will begin.
Completing the new 60-credit degree will take about three years, Weissenburger said, with a mix of online, weekend and evening classes to serve working adults. Coursework will include methodologies, educational leadership, statistics, systems analysis, strategic planning, program evaluation, and applied research design and practice in career and technical education. About 15 students a year are expected to enroll.
Brian Albrecht, president of Gateway Technical College in southeastern Wisconsin, also was enthusiastic about the new degree offering.
“I could be a poster child for the need for this kind of program,” he said, because he had to drive seven hours one way from Racine to the Twin Cities while working on his doctorate.
“From the technical college perspective, this is needed and will be very appreciated,” said Regent Mark Tyler, who represents the technical college system on the Board of Regents.
Also attending the committee meeting Thursday were Carol Mooney, program director for the master’s and educational specialist degrees at UW-Stout who has worked to plan the doctorate, and Mary Hopkins-Best, dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Services.
"Development of this degree program was made possible because of the tireless work of our faculty, the dedication of our CTE program director Dr. Carol Mooney and the support of our technical college partner," Hopkins-Best said.
“I am convinced that there will be terrific response from the technical colleges to this new degree, and it is really filling a need,” Mooney said.