For the first time in the school’s history, graduates at California State University, Long Beach’s commencement ceremony were hooded in honor of the doctorates they earned.
A three-year doctoral program in education leadership, the first offered at any Cal State, came to fruition last week as 13 graduates received their doctorates.
CSULB officials said the Ed.D. program, which now is being offered by six other Cal State campuses and will continue to expand, was designed to meet a rising need for academic leaders.
“In 2005, the legislation changed to allow CSUs to offer independent doctorates,” said Dr. Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, dean of the college of education at CSULB. “We chose this program because there was a need for leaders in higher education — the baby boomers are leaving.”
The doctoral program, which Grenot-Scheyer oversees, is designed to be a three-year curriculum for working professionals. Those in the cohort-model program enter and graduate as a group and represent a diverse mix of students — many of those who are enrolled work full-time to support their families, she said.
Dave Edwards, 40, was one of the students who received his Ed.D.
“When I heard about the independent doctorate offered by CSU, I thought it was a great professional opportunity in my backyard,” he said. “I was honored to be one of the first cohorts in the CSU doctorate.”
In the long-term, Edwards, who is currently the associate executive director of the Associated Students, Inc. and director of the CSULB University Student Union, said he hopes to be the president of a university.
“You never know the impact an educational leader is going to have on a student’s life,” he said.
Both Edwards and graduate Robert Garcia, 32, said the program was a lot of work and required sacrifice, especially for students balancing their studies with work and family.
“This is a lot,” said Garcia, who is the First District Long Beach City Councilman and is also the first member of his family to graduate from college. “We have been in the program for three years and certainly we were in class twice a week most of the time and had Saturday classes. It was difficult for me to run for City Council and hold down a job and do this.
“I have always put my passion for education first, and I was committed to get this done. This was an important moment for me and for my whole family. I am the first in my family to even get a bachelor’s degree, so it was their accomplishment too.”
CSULB President Dr. F. King Alexander was a teacher for students in the doctoral program. He taught classes about higher education finance and public policy.
“I know all of them (the graduates) well,” he said. “I am proud of each and every one of them.”
Alexander said he expects Cal State to expand its doctoral offerings in the future to meet shortages in professions such as nursing and physical therapy. He added that the Ed.D at CSULB addresses a need in the community for higher education professionals and boosts Cal State’s reputation.
“For all those who underestimated us, they were wrong again,” Alexander said.
The 13 graduates who had finished their dissertations were Brad Davidson, Barbara Dunsheath, Dave Edwards, Michelle Fino, Farah Khaleghi, Eugene Kwong, Jayson Lloyd, Michael Munoz, Deb Powers, John Scaringe, Michele Starkey, Marshall Thomas and Janet Young.
Six other graduates walked at commencement. Liza Becker, Allison Deegan, Robert Garcia, Jesus Rodriguez, Candace Smith and Leigh Woods, are finishing their dissertations this summer, school officials said.