University should have right to expand doctoral programs

University should have right to expand doctoral programs

Michael Bragg

From the move to the Sun Belt Conference to the chancellor search, Appalachian State University has been undergoing a period of transition, and I hope one that administrators will expand to include academics.

Since the University of North Carolina Board of Governors denied a change in the university’s mission statement that would allow for expansion of doctoral programs, individuals and representative bodies across campus have united behind the new wording.

The mission’s wording that Chancellor Kenneth Peacock originally penned called for “various doctoral degrees.” It was changed by the BOG to read “the doctorate in Education.”

Peacock has resisted the change and resolutions by the Faculty Senate and the Student Government Association have been approved to back him up, according to an article in The Appalachian.

The process of expanding doctoral programs is not one that can be done quickly, but it is certainly an option the university should have.

This step would allow the university to enhance its ability to serve, not only students seeking doctoral degrees, but the mission of helping reach out to the local and state community.

I certainly don’t want to see a transformation into a new type of institution, but it does not seem that this is what the administration has in mind.

Graduate School Dean Edelma Huntley said the plans as of now are for a relatively modest doctoral program that seeks to further core elements of the university’s mission.

“There are no plans for doctoral expansion beyond eventually a very small number of applied or professional doctorates that fit our mission,” Huntley said in an email.

Huntley specifically cites plans for a doctorate in psychology. This could certainly be of benefit to the community, as Appalachia has been shown to have problems with the access and cost of healthcare, according to a July 2012 report of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Huntley notes that actually developing the programs would take two to three years and the approval of several bodies like the UNC General Administration, the Graduate Council and the Board of Governors.

If this is the course we are to take, a limited one that could give the university the potential to serve the community around, it is one that we should be allowed to begin soon.

This would not be a deviation from a core mission, but an enhancement thereof. The Board of Governors should agree to the wishes of the university.

Kevin Griffin, a sophomore journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.