SF State News {University Communications}

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Education doctorate graduates first cohort

May 19, 2010 -- The first students to complete SF State's doctorate in educational leadership -- the University's first independent doctoral degree -- will graduate at Commencement on Saturday, May 22.

The 10 graduating students include working professionals from California's schools, community colleges and the California State University. The doctorate prepares leaders to tackle some of the most vexing problems in education, such as closing the achievement gap, effectively educating students whose first language isn't English and dealing with budget cuts without compromising educational quality. 

Photo of Vincent Matthews

Vincent Mathhews

Vincent Matthews is among this year's graduates, and was recently named Superintendent of San Jose Unified School District. "I have spent most of my career working in large urban school districts, so I was attracted to the doctorate's focus on social justice and equity," said Matthews, who has dedicated his more than 26-year career to raising student achievement for low-income students of color. He is currently the state trustee for the Oakland Unified School District, where he has been responsible for helping the district return to fiscal solvency. He assumes his new role in the San Jose Unified School District on July 1.

Many of the students use their own workplace as the subject of research projects. Matthews' dissertation examined budgeting practices in Oakland, which allocate resources based on the socio-economic status of individual schools. "I found that increasing student achievement is as much about the site's educational philosophy and training among the staff as it is about the school budget," Matthews said.

The doctorate was established in 2007 following groundbreaking legislation that allowed CSU campuses to offer independent education doctorates. During the three-year program, students attend intensive weekend classes that are taught by an interdisciplinary faculty from seven of the University's eight colleges.

Photo of Michelle Donohue-Mendoza

Michelle Donohue-Mendoza

Michelle Donohue-Mendoza joined the program to help advance her career as an administrator in the community college system and the CSU. She worked for CSU Monterrey Bay for 12 years, helping to establish the "start- up" campus there and is currently director of student life at West Valley Community College in Saratoga.

Donohue-Mendoza says her enhanced grounding in research methods has helped her better evaluate the student services she manages. "Throughout the course I was always bringing the classroom into my workplace and vice versa," Donohue-Mendoza said. Her dissertation examined how supervision and mentoring can help female middle managers break the glass ceiling at the executive level in higher education, and she has already been invited to present her results at local universities and professional associations.

For their professional and academic achievements, Matthews and Donohue-Mendoza have been awarded Graduate Student Achievement Awards. Matthews has been chosen to receive the symbolic hood at Commencement on behalf of the students in his cohort.

"During the first three years of the program, the impact on practice has been palpable," said Robert Gabriner, director of the Ed.D. program. "The program changes the way the students approach problems in education and they take this new way of thinking into their workplaces on Monday morning."

For more information about the doctorate in educational leadership, visit www.sfsu.edu/~edd/

-- Elaine Bible


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