MBU launches second doctorate

The new terminal degree focuses on preparing next generation of leaders at community colleges in St. Louis region

For seven years, Carrie Flesh has been referring community college students at Jefferson College to complete their four-year degree at Missouri Baptist University. And now, thanks to MBU’s most recent academic endeavor, Flesh, an admissions and student records representative at Jefferson College, will have the opportunity to pursue her own educational goals at MBU as well.

Later this year, MBU will begin offering its second doctoral program, the Doctor of Education in Higher Education with Emphasis in Community College Leadership.

This terminal degree will focus on the knowledge and practical skills needed by instructional and administrative leaders to be effective in community college leadership positions.
The 54-credit-hour program will typically take 4 1⁄2 years to complete using a hybrid of online and face-to- face classes in addition to the doctoral research study. The program will implement a cohort model, allowing 20 students to begin the degree at the same time and move through the classes together.

Flesh, who already has a Master of Education in Adult and Higher Education from the University of Missouri – St. Louis, believes the doctoral program will fill a need
for many educators interested in transitioning from the K-12 environment to higher education as well as current community college employees such as herself.

“I plan to stay in higher education, and getting a doctorate is important for that career path,” said Flesh. “In addition to being at a convenient location, the program’s emphasis on community college leadership, the support of the cohort model and the focus on practical application really appeal to me.”

The University expects that the program’s unique emphasis on community college leadership will be a selling point for many potential students.

Melanie Pecord, business department chair and associate professor of computer information systems at John A. Logan College in Illinois, agrees that there is a market for the niche program.

“I have looked into several doctoral programs, and many schools offer opportunities for administrators in K-12, but I am looking for something specific to higher ed administration,” said Pecord. “MBU will have the only program in the area that focuses on community college leadership while giving students the opportunity to meet face-to-face with instructors.”

Offering a doctorate with an emphasis in community college leadership seems like a natural progression in a long- standing partnership between MBU and area community colleges.
MBU began operating its first regional learning center in 1993 at Jefferson College in Hillsboro. The Plus-Two program allows community college students who have finished their associate’s degree to complete a four-year degree from Missouri Baptist University on site.

“Because MBU has offices and classes right here on the campus of Jefferson College, it really increases students’ access to higher education,” said Flesh. “Not every student in the area has the means to commute to St. Louis for school or go away to college. Offering classes at an extension site also supports people working full time who have a lot of demands on their time and need flexibility.”

MBU now collaborates with six area community colleges: East Central, Jefferson and Mineral Area in Missouri; and John A. Logan, Lewis and Clark and Rend Lake in Illinois. Students have the opportunity to pursue undergraduate degree completion programs as well as graduate degrees at the MBU regional learning center located on each campus.
The new doctoral program will serve to strengthen MBU’s partnerships with these schools by giving instructional and administrative leaders at the community colleges the opportunity to pursue a terminal degree highly specialized for their line of work right here in St. Louis.

Dr. Julia Schroeder, who worked at John A. Logan College for 30 years before retiring as the vice president for instruction in 2011, has identified an immediate need for MBU’s new doctorate in Southern Illinois.

“There is a current shortage of community college administrators who have had the proper training to assume those roles,” said Schroeder, who now works as director of the MBU Plus at JALC and coordinator of Southern Illinois development. “There has been a wave of retirements in leadership positions at the community colleges for the past five years – not only in Southern Illinois, but nationwide – and that will continue to occur into the future.”

MBU will help equip community college personnel by becoming the first university in the area to offer a doctorate in higher education with a focus on community college leadership.
The Doctor of Education in Higher Education with Emphasis in Community College Leadership is the second terminal degree to be offered by MBU. The University began offering the Doctor of Education, which focuses on K-12 leadership, in the fall of 2009, and all cohorts have been at capacity since the program’s inception. So far, 38 students have earned doctorates, and about 100 students are currently in the program completing coursework or finishing their doctoral research study.

If the success of MBU’s first doctoral program is any indication, enrollment for its second doctorate will quickly reach capacity.