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CSUF to Offer Independent Doctorate in Education
Ed.D. Group
Twenty local educators and public school administrators gathered for orientation to the university’s first independent doctoral degree program in education.
19 Local Educational Leaders to Start Program This August

July 12, 2007 :: No. 4

Nineteen local educators have been selected to be the first admitted to California State University, Fullerton’s new doctorate in education program beginning this August.

“These select group of educators are about to embark upon a unique program of study — one that is designed specifically to prepare outstanding leaders for California’s pre-K through grade 12 schools,” said Claire Cavallaro, dean of the College of Education.

In a daylong orientation held June 30 for the inaugural class, the doctoral candidates met faculty members, learnedabout research concepts and how to complete advanced studies. Classes for the three-year program begin the week of Aug. 20 with the start of the university’s fall semester.

The incoming doctoral students are all working full-time as school principals and vice principals, administrators of special elementary and secondary programs, school psychologists and teachers (see list below). The new doctoral program schedules courses on weekday evenings and weekends to accommodate students’ work schedules.

Cal State Fullerton is among the first campuses in the California State University system to offer an Ed.D. in educational leadership. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger authorized creation of CSU’s first independent doctoral program in 2005 when he signed legislation introduced by Sen. Jack Scott. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) gave final approval in June to Cal State Fullerton and other CSU campuses to independently offer the doctorate in education.

“There is a great demand for the state’s public universities to offer a quality doctoral program for educators at California’s schools,” said CSUF President Milton A. Gordon.“Our program will provide these future leaders with an accessible, affordable and quality Ed.D. degree.”

Other California State University campuses approved to offer the doctoral degree this fall are: CSU Fresno, Long Beach, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco. CSU San Bernardino is in the final steps of the approval process and is expected to also begin the program this year.

Before the recent legislation, the CSU was permitted to offer a limited number of joint doctorates with other universities. In 2003, Cal State Fullerton partnered with UC Irvine to offer a joint doctorate in educational administration and leadership. The first four graduates of this program earned their doctorates in May. Five others are working on their dissertations and are expected to complete that program next spring.

Cal State Fullerton’s new independent program is geared for educators seeking careers as administrators, such as principals and superintendents, noted Louise Adler, chair and professor of educational leadership, who has been working to get the CSUF doctorate program off the ground since the late 1990s.

“One of the things that’s exciting is that as an academic community, we set the goal at Cal State Fullerton to achieve this at least eight years ago, and everyone involved on our campus has pulled together to make it happen,” Adler said.

The university is expected to begin offering a specialization in community college leadership as early as fall 2008, she said.

Demand for program has been great, Adler noted, particularly among educators in the region wishing to advance into careers in administrative leadership. Fifty area professionals applied to be in the first class of doctoral students.

“California produces fewer educators with doctorates than most other states,” Adler explained. “The new degree program positions Cal State Fullerton to play a much greater role in preparing educators for future leadership roles.”

The program’s rigorous research training requires students to begin their dissertations in the first year, rather than wait until the third year. “We designed the program to assure that students complete their independent research and their doctorate,” Adler said. “Since the state is paying part of the cost of the program, we want to make sure students complete the degree.”

In addition to using existing faculty members, the College of Education has added two new faculty members to the doctoral program: Dawn Person, professor of educational leadership, and Daniel Choi, assistant professor of educational leadership. Choi, who earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership and Policy Studies at Arizona State University, will begin teaching this fall. Person, currently a professor with expertise in student development in higher education at Cal State Long Beach, will join CSUF in January and develop the curriculum for the community college emphasis of the program. Person earned an Ed.D. in higher and adult education from Teachers College at Columbia University.

The 19 doctoral candidates in the entering class include:

  • Jaymi Abusham, of Fullerton, vice principal, Marshall Elementary School, Anaheim City School District
  • John Albert, principal, Washington Middle School, Vista Unified School District (San Diego County)
  • Karla Alcala-Contreras, program coordinator, Sierra Intermediate School, Santa Ana Unified School District
  • Nehad Ahmed, principal, Orange Crescent School (Garden Grove private school)
  • Christie Baird, of Huntington Beach, coordinator of instructional services, Orange County Department of Education
  • Dori Barnett, of La Mirada, school psychologist, Orange County Department of Education/ACCESS program
  • Melissa Brookman, Architecture/Construction and Engineering (ACE)  lead/Title I facilitator, Jordan High School, Long Beach Unified School District
  • Octavio Vito Gamez, of Riverside, fifth grade teacher, Garretson Elementary School, Corona-Norco Unified School District
  • Karen Hanson, of Orange, coordinator of health services, Orange Unified School District
  • Ivin Christopher Hauck, of Lake Elsinore, teacher of alternative education, Bob Murphy County Community Day School (Rialto), San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools
  • Abbe Kya, of Anaheim, administrator of instructional technology, Compton Unified School District
  • Michelle Le Patner, director of research and evaluation, Santa Ana Unified School District
  • Laurel Mullally, director of health services, child care and grant programs, Chino Valley Unified School District
  • Valinda Minda Owen-Fitzgerald, of Whittier, teacher and intervention specialist, California High School, Whittier Union High School District
  • Dave Posthuma, dean of attendance, Sunny Hills High School, Fullerton Joint Union High School District
  • Yvonne Rodriguez, of Whittier, assistant principal of curriculum and instruction, Paramount High School, Paramount Unified School District
  • Ta-Taneisha R. Thames, of Carson, school psychologist, Carnegie Middle School, Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Cathy Wietstock, of Mission Viejo, coordinator of instructional services, Orange County Department of Education
  • Christina Zubko, dean of attendance, Troy High School, Fullerton Joint Union High School District.

For more information about Cal State Fullerton’s doctorate in education program visit: or call 657-278-8302.


Media Contacts:

Claire Cavallaro, College of Education dean,
657-278-4021 or
Louise Adler, Educational Leadership, 657-278-7673 or
Debra Cano Ramos, Public Affairs, 657-278-4027 or

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