Skip to main content

Degree program to train tomorrow’s leaders of education

October 13, 2009

ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education has launched a three-year Doctor of Education degree program, which  prepares candidates for top administrative positions in two- and four-year colleges and universities, focuses on serving diverse communities, and offers a creative approach to completing dissertations.

The Leadership for Changing Times (LCT) EdD degree program prepares intellectual leaders for a range of careers in higher and postsecondary education, with a unique emphasis on innovative practices that serve diverse communities within various institutional types. Using a researcher/practitioner model, the program debuted this fall with 25 students selected from 40 applicants, with extensive experience as administrators and faculty in higher education.  

“The changing face of education, which includes enduring budget cuts, more diverse students and advancing technologies will require administrators to be flexible,” says Caroline Turner, the Lincoln Professor of Ethics and Education, a professor of policy, leadership and curriculum, and the director of the LCT program.

Turner says the delivery method and format of the rigorous program recognizes the unique needs of working professionals with full-time responsibilities.  

Several program features are designed to mitigate student isolation and attrition in the program. Students who have similar themes for their dissertations will work in teams of four or five to collaborate, critique and support each other on their progress, including the development of their research questions and their literature review. Each team will have an assigned faculty adviser who will oversee the dissertation process with the assistance of a dissertation coach.

A large part of the program’s $3,000 per-year fee supports dissertation coaches who have doctoral degrees and who will spend approximately 18 months working with faculty to assist candidates in the completion of their dissertations.  

“We want them to realize that they are not alone,” Turner says.

An overarching goal of the LCT program, she says, is to develop leaders with the knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to lead innovation and change in higher education, with an emphasis on serving diverse communities at two- and four-year colleges and universities.
Turner praises Carlos Castillo-Chavez, an ASU Regents’ Professor, and Joaquin Bustoz Jr., a professor of mathematical biology, for “doing the impossible.” As executive director of ASU’s Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute, Castillo-Chavez has successfully recruited minority and low-income students to his eight-week graduate student summer course which prepares them for doctoral degrees in mathematics at ASU and other universities around the country, including Cornell and Harvard University.

“They didn’t think they belonged,” Castillo-Chavez says. “Most of them were not thinking about a Ph.D. in mathematics. They don’t know that of the 1,200 Ph.D.s awarded in mathematics each year, only 40 go to Latinos. There used to be only 20. We have contributed a lot to that growth. People are saying this cannot be done. These students come back to our program year after year.”

Turner is planning to partner with Castillo-Chavez to arrange internships for her students with the Regents’ Professor, as part of their doctoral program.

The curriculum for these prospective top-tier administrators delves into the inner workings of universities nationwide, detailing how they are financed and organized; the role of governing bodies in making decisions; and insights into how policies are drawn.

Richard D. Fisher is the director of the Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School’s Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives, which focuses on STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) university-wide, and is a student in the new program.

Despite holding two nearly 20-year-old masters’ degrees in education and earth science, Fisher says his career options have been very limited without a doctorate.

But with a 60-hour work week, and raising a family, he says the “timing wasn’t right” to immerse himself into a doctorate program. The new program format has changed that.

“It is optimal for me as a full-time working professional to complete a program in a cohort model for the benefit of the collegiality with other working professionals,” he says.

He also is encouraged by the program’s projections that retirement of educational leaders will open up senior administrative positions for newly minted applicants with doctorate degrees.

Applications currently are being accepted for fall 2010 enrollment in the LCT doctoral program. For more information and to apply, visit

Carol Sowers,
(602) 524-4443
Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education