State schools ben­e­fit from bill

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - LETTERS - By Thomas P. Murt

State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive

Some of Penn­syl­va­nia’s very best re­sources in post-sec­ondary and higher ed­u­ca­tion are in our State Sys­tem of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion.

The Penn­syl­va­nia State Sys­tem of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion (PASSHEF in­cludes our 13 state uni­ver­si­ties, which are run by the Com­mon­wealth of Penn­syl­va­nia. They in­clude Blooms­burg State Univer­sity, Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity, Cheyney State Univer­sity, Clar­ion State Univer­sity, East Strouds­burg State Univer­sity, Ed­in­boro State Univer­sity, In­di­ana State Univer­sity, Kutz­town State Univer­sity, Lock Haven State Univer­sity, Mans­field State Univer­sity, Ship­pens­burg State Univer­sity, Slip­pery Rock State Univer­sity and West Chester State Univer­sity.

These in­sti­tu­tions pro­vide an ex­cel­lent and high qual­ity ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence at af­ford­able tu­ition rates. Their mis­sion tran­scends pro­vid­ing top-qual­ity un­der­grad­u­ate ed­u­ca­tion. Many of these in­sti­tu­tions in the PASSHE cur­rently of­fer mas­ter’s-level grad­u­ate pro­grams, and soon, may also be au­tho­rized to of­fer doc­toral pro­grams throughout the sys­tem.

At the present time, the only in­sti­tu­tion in the PASSHE that is au­tho­rized to of­fer doc­toral level pro­grams in­de­pen­dently is the In­di­ana Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia. IUP cur­rently of­fers some very well-re­garded doc­toral pro­grams that are renowned in their re­spec­tive aca­demic dis­ci­plines. ko other in­sti­tu­tion in the PASSHE, other than IUP, is au­tho­rized to of­fer doc­toral level cour­ses, un­less they do it as a joint-de­gree pro­gram with IUP, or through an­other in­sti­tu­tion that is au­tho­rized to of­fer such doc­toral level work.

This lack of author­ity of in­sti­tu­tions in the PASSHE to of­fer high-qual­ity and lower-cost doc­toral pro­grams is a great draw­back for the cit­i­zens of our com­mon­wealth. This is es­pe­cially true in some of the ru­ral ar­eas of the com­mon­wealth where our PASSHE in­sti­tu­tions are lo­cated. Penn­syl­va­ni­ans are be­ing de­prived of wider ac­cess to doc­toral level de­gree pro­grams. As a re­sult, we are not prop­erly uti­liz­ing the out­stand­ing re­sources we have in the PASSHE. Al­though, at present, none of the other in­sti­tu­tions in the State Sys­tem of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion of­fer doc­toral pro­grams, these in­sti­tu­tions cer­tainly have the re­sources, fac­ulty ex­per­tise, ca­pa­bil­ity and aca­demic strength to do so.

I have co-spon­sored House Bill 1343 which is a re­cent leg­isla­tive pro­posal that amends the Pub­lic School Code of 1949 to al­low all the in­sti­tu­tions within the PASSHE, to of­fer doc­toral de­grees af­ter meet­ing cer­tain high stan­dards.

House Bill 1343 will al­low all PASSHE in­sti­tu­tions to pro­vide doc­toral level in­struc­tion in ar­eas of study lead­ing to pro­fes­sional doc­toral de­grees, also known as Ap­plied Doc­toral de­grees such as a Doc­tor­ate of Ed­u­ca­tion (Ed.D.F. IUP will re­main the only PASSHE in­sti­tu­tion with author­ity to of­fer a Doc­tor of Phi­los­o­phy de­gree (Ph.D.F. House Bill 1343 re­quires that these doc­toral de­gree pro­grams be ap­proved by the Penn­syl­va­nia State Sys­tem of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Board prior to be­ing of­fered. The pro­posal also re­quires com­pli­ance with all the cri­te­ria es­tab­lished by the Penn­syl­va­nia State Sys­tem of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Board. Such doc­toral pro­grams must sat­isfy all the re­quire­ments that the Penn­syl­va­nia State Sys­tem of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Board deems nec­es­sary, in­clud­ing the doc­u­mented need for the pro­gram, the ad­e­quacy of univer­sity re­sources to of­fer the pro­gram, ev­i­dence of co­op­er­a­tion with other in­sti­tu­tions, agen­cies, or or­ga­ni­za­tions, and the means of as­sess­ment and ac­cred­i­ta­tion.

This ap­proach taken in House Bill 1343 to ex­pand doc­toral level grad­u­ate study op­por­tu­ni­ties in Penn­syl­va­nia will cre­ate a level play­ing field for the Penn­syl­va­nia State Sys­tem of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and to all ge­o­graphic sec­tors of higher ed­u­ca­tion across the Com­mon­wealth. House Bill 1343 will fa­cil­i­tate a re­turn to the orig­i­nal in­tent of the 1965 statute by giv­ing state uni­ver­si­ties the right to of­fer ap­plied doc­toral pro­grams in­de­pen­dently, and not solely through the In­di­ana Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia.

House Bill 1343 will per­mit all the uni­ver­si­ties in the PASSHE to of­fer ap­plied doc­tor­ate pro­grams in­de­pen­dently. This will meet the doc­u­mented cur­rent and fu­ture work­force needs of the Com­mon­wealth of Penn­syl­va­nia. House Bill 1343 is a means by which high qual­ity doc­toral level study can be ex­tended across the Com­mon­wealth.

State Rep. Thomas P. Murt serves the 152nd Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, which in­cludes the town­ships of Lower and Up­per More­land, as well as the bor­oughs of Hat­boro and Bryn Athyn. The dis­trict also in­cludes por­tions of Up­per Dublin Town­ship and the Philmont Heights sec­tion of North­east Philadel­phia.

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