San Francisco Chronicle

CSU Riles UC, May Offer Education Doctorates

Advanced degree could ease faculty shortages, increase diversity, reduce costs

Tanya Schevitz, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 20, 2001

In a move that has inflamed a long-standing rivalry, California State University Chancellor Charles Reed is asking the state Legislature for permission to offer an education doctorate, a degree now reserved for the University of California.

Officials at CSU, which trains 60 percent of the state's teachers and half of its school administrators, say their system is better equipped than UC to offer the education doctorate and that their participation is needed.

Between the growing student population and accelerating rate of retirements,

CSU officials say, the demand for doctorates is there. Others, however, believe any increases can be handled by the institutions already offering advanced degrees.

"It is really a question of supply. California has never been able to prepare the number of people needed for the community colleges, for the public schools," said CSU Executive Vice Chancellor David Spence, who will brief the CSU trustees about Reed's proposal during their meeting in Long Beach tomorrow.

The state's 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education, however, clearly divides responsibility for the state, giving UC the more prestigious role of being California's research institution -- and with it, the role of awarding doctoral degrees. Teaching was the designated mission for CSU.

UC President Richard Atkinson has made it clear he does not want that distinction blurred.

Even though similar proposals have languished for years, he has fired off letters to Reed and to the state senator in charge of a review of the master plan, saying that UC can meet the state's needs and promising UC will now work with CSU on joint doctoral degrees.

"The provisions of the Master Plan for Higher Education have been instrumental in the development of California's three segments of higher education, each of which is at the highest level of excellence in its own area of responsibility," Atkinson wrote to Sen. Dede Alpert, D-Coronado, who chairs a committee that is revising the master plan.

Alpert, who is reserving judgment on the issue, said that Californians will benefit no matter what happens because it is finally getting the attention it deserves.

"They (UC) have a poor history of having done it," she said. "They have promised for years to set up their joint programs, and they haven't done it."

In his letters, Atkinson pledged that UC, which produced about one-third of the state's 457 total education doctorates in 1997-98, will increase its production of education doctorates by 50 percent during the next five years and double it over the next 10 years.

Spence, meanwhile, said that while UC focuses largely on full-time students and on theory and discipline, CSU would concentrate its efforts on providing programs tailored to working education professionals.

"We are talking about applied doctorates and applied research," Spence said.

"We are talking about something that UC has not addressed in the past -- working with part-time students, practicing professionals and problems that grow out of practical situations."

The California Postsecondary Education Commission reported to the Legislature in December that current production of education doctorates is sufficient to meet existing and future demand in the public schools. But Spence said that the conclusion looked only at K-12 needs and did not factor in the demand for education doctorate graduates in community colleges and four- year colleges and universities, especially in the education schools.

In addition, he said, the report notes that private colleges and universities produced more than two-thirds of all education doctorates. That means students are paying high tuition for their degrees, upward of $45,000 in some cases.

He said that UC does not have the capacity to meet the demand.

"The need is there," Spence said. "All other states use the public sector."

Providing the education doctorate at CSU campuses would open the opportunity to a more diverse class of students, including working professionals who have to commute to the programs and take classes in the evenings and on weekends. More than half of Californians -- 56 percent -- live within 10 miles of CSU's 22 campuses, while just 21 percent live within 10 miles of UC's nine campuses, Spence said.

However, UC Regent Velma Montoya, also a member of the California Postsecondary Education Commission, is concerned that CSU would be creating programs that are not needed. She said the commission's report found that the Ed.D. offers individuals little personal return -- an average of $1,000 increase in salary annually -- and is neither required for school administrators nor an added value for teachers.

She said CSU should focus on improving teacher training instead of getting into the business of doctoral degrees.

"They should focus on their primary mission at this time," she said. "UC is supposed to give the (research degrees)."

Warren Fox, executive director of the California Postsecondary Education Commission, is recommending that the issue be explored further before a decision is made.

"Our study is being used by both CSU and UC," he said. "The state university notes that most of the Ed.D's come from private institutions, so the state ought to offer more affordable alternatives. . . . UC looks at our study and notes that it finds that the number of Ed.D's being produced for K- 12 is sufficient."

E-mail Tanya Schevitz at