Point Park’s new doctoral program boasts flexibility, creativity and diversity, opening up new opportunities for its cohorts.
“Designed for working professionals,” the doctoral program is a three-year Ed.D in Leadership and Administration, a career focused degree with three tracts: professional leadership, K-12 administration and an individualized concentration, according to the program’s website.
“As I learned about it, the thing that was most interesting to me was that it was individualized,” said Laurie Heinricher, Curriculum Director for the Hampton School District and student in the administration tract in a phone interview Aug 27. “Point Park honored credentials from other Pittsburgh institutions; I wasn’t asked to jump through hoops.”
Heinricher was also excited by the program’s diversity.
“I was struck by the diversity of people in my interview group,” Heinricher said. “Lots of paths were represented.”
Dina Clark, Senior Director of the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh and student in the leadership tract, was impressed by the program’s individualized approach.
“Many programs didn’t consider other aspects of your life,” said Clark in a phone interview Aug. 29. “This program honored your life. It was relevant, convenient. It had an accelerated approach to ensure what you learn is still relevant.”
Clark was also impressed by the Point Park community.
“This is a supported experience,” Clark said. “You weren’t just a check for the University, you were a person.”
Leah Spangler, CEO of The Learning Lamp and student in the leadership tract, was pleased with the faculty’s attitude about the program.
“You can tell the faculty is very excited,” said Spangler in a phone interview Aug. 28. “They’ve put a lot of time, energy and effort into this.”
As part of the program’s orientation, the cohorts spent a day at the Greater Pennsylvania Carpenter Union Training Center on Aug. 23 building desks designed by and for students at Holy Family Academy.
Heinricher’s group had to learn how to build the desks, organize themselves to efficiently put them together and then teach the following group how to build them using leadership skills, delegation and communication.
“We had to ask ‘how do we instill excitement about the goal in a limited time?’” Heinricher said. “It was part bonding, part leadership exercise; an interesting way to launch the program.”
Spangler also attended the team building exercise.
“I enjoyed getting the chance to interact with students and teachers in a less formal setting,” Spangler said.
As for the newness of the program, the attitude is one of excitement.
“Being part of something new and better gave me energy,” Heinricher said. “The newness excited me.”
According to Clark, the attitudes surrounding the program are overwhelmingly positive, “so much so that people at Pitt’s Ed.D program wish they had known about Point Park’s.”
“I think overall it’s amazing that the University is taking this step,” Clark said. “There’s a new level of opportunity and excitement on campus.”
For these students, the main benefit of a new degree is seen as an opportunity.
“The currency of education needs to be new education,” Heinricher said. “There seems to be a currency that only comes from getting that next degree. So many opportunities will open up once I have my doctorate.”
For Clark, expertise isn’t given by degree only, but “sometimes you need the letters to create options and opportunities,” and once she has the degree, “the sky’s the limit.”
For Spangler, it’s about the process.
“I hope to become a better leader and want to serve better through the skills that I learn,” Spangler said. “I’m very glad to be part of the first cohort of doctoral students at Point Park.”