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1 February 2008

JSU Looking to Create First Doctorate

By Dan Whisenhunt
Star Staff Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

If Jacksonville State University gets approval from two regulatory agencies, it could soon have its first doctorate program.

The school's board of trustees voted Monday at its regular meeting to seek a doctorate program in emergency management.

It would be the first doctorate offered at the university. Board chairman Jim Bennett said he wants the university to pursue other doctoral programs, as well.

Becky Turner, JSU's vice president of academic and student affairs, said the school needs approval from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

"We would like to implement the program in the fall," Turner said. "It may take longer than that depending on how quickly ACHE allows the program to move through the process."

"It won't be an easy process, but it's one I believe that we can show the case for our additional doctorate program," JSU president Bill Meehan said.

Turner said the school has the first master's degree program for emergency management in the state.

Emergency management is also one of the more popular majors at JSU; according to data provided at Monday's meeting, there were 360 JSU students enrolled in the program in fall 2007.

Ellen Haulman, assistant director for instruction with the ACHE, said the commission is studying how it allows colleges to change their instructional roles.

ACHE may change that process, she said.

"I'm not sure how that study would impact (JSU) because currently they do not have that instructional role to offer doctoral programs," she said.

According to ACHE's Web site, JSU's proposal will be put out for comment by other colleges. ACHE will also study the program as it relates to the needs of the state.

"By statute the commission has 10 months to do something with the proposal when it's submitted," Haulman said.

Turner said if the proposal is approved by the commission, it will then go to SACS for approval.

Belle Wheelan, president of the commission on colleges of SACS, said the association's approval would require a lengthy and detailed investigation.

SACS asks about teachers' qualifications, an explanation of all courses offered, how much it will cost to run the program and the school's library resources.

"It's everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask," Wheelan said.

She said approval from SACS can take six months to a year.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt covers K-12 schools and higher education for The Star.

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