TTU to start third Ph.D. program this fall

Tennessee Technological University recently received approval from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to move forward with its third Ph.D. program in "Exceptional Learning," a program designed to prepare teachers and professionals how to effectively deal with students who have special needs.

Betty Roe, professor of Curriculum and Instruction, has been named the director of the new doctoral program and classes are expected to begin in Fall 2000. Roe lives in Crossville.

"We're now developing the preparatory materials to send out and invite applicants," said Dean Richey, interim dean of the College of Education.

"We're also building doctoral classes into our Fall schedule Ð we're ready to roll," he added.

Richey said he expects to have approximately 15 part-time doctoral students begin this Fall and anywhere from three to 10 full-time students participating.

"The intent of the program core is to create for the professional, through a carefully planned sequence of course work and experiences, an understanding of the context in which 'exceptional' and 'at-risk' characteristics emerge," Richey added.

Prevention and intervention strategies will be taught so students at-risk and their families are given a voice and become active participants and contributors in the learning process, he said.

"Core courses will reflect cultural and learning diversity, rural schools and communities, learning and cognition, family collaboration and applications of technology with at-risk populations," said Richey.

The proposed Ph.D. program will have three concentrations: 1) young children and families; 2) literacy; 3) applied behavior and learning.

Tennessee Tech already offers graduate programs at the Master of Arts and Educational Specialist levels, which focus more traditionally on specific curricular areas related to the Ph.D. program.

Additional support to these programs is provided through graduate programs in curriculum, elementary education, secondary education and health and physical education.

"The proposed program reflects an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to preparing future leaders and applied researchers who will help improve the lives of numerous children at-risk and their families," Richey said.

With the approval of its third Ph.D. program Ðin addition to environmental science and engineering Ð TTU now shows a greater commitment to doctoral programs and may soon see its state funding change for the better, said Rebecca Tolbert, associate vice president of Academic Affairs.

"With three doctoral degrees, it shows we have a greater commitment to doctoral studies," she said.

"And, when a program can on average graduate 10 doctoral students per year combined from the three Ph.D. programs, we can be classified as a 'Doctoral II' university," she explained.

A Doctoral II institution offers a full range of baccalaureate programs and is committed to graduate education through the doctorate. Higher classifications include Doctoral University I (awarding at least 40 doctoral degrees annually); Research Universities II (award 50 or more doctoral degrees annually and receive between $15.5 million a year in federal support); and Research I Universities (award 50 or more doctoral degrees and receive $40 million or more in federal support).

"This designation will give us different peers (other universities) to be compared to in the state funding formula and with these changes, we could see an increase in funding," she added.

"We're very excited about the prospects."