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Endicott College in Beverly to launch new doctoral program

By Wendy Killeen
Globe Correspondent / December 15, 2011
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During the last 25 years, Endicott College in Beverly has gone from being a financially struggling school for women with fewer than 600 students to a thriving co-ed institution with 2,300 undergraduates and 2,700 graduate students.

It will soon become the first college on the North Shore to offer a doctoral program.

“This is a great opportunity for us and for the North Shore,’’ said Richard Wylie, who became president of the college 25 years ago and spearheaded its advancements. “It’s making the North Shore a hub of higher education.’’

When the announcement was made recently, to about 250 faculty and staff, that the Massachusetts Board of Education had approved the program after a three-year application process, the audience stood and applauded, Wylie said.

“There was such excitement and energy,’’ Wylie said. “It reaffirms that Endicott cares deeply about being an entrepreneurial institution that will continue to grow and develop.’’

The program, which will start next fall, will offer a doctoral degree in educational leadership. The focus is on preparing leaders for small to midsize organizations in higher education, schools, and nonprofits. It will stress research, theory, and applying skills to the real world.

“The focus will be on helping professionals become better at their jobs and more effective,’’ Wylie said.

“It’s very exciting,’’ said Mary Huegel, vice president and dean of Endicott’s graduate school. “It’s nice to finally have it happen. It will just enhance everything we do.’’

Huegel said the program will start small, with a maximum of eight students, and possibly double in the second year. She added it is unlikely it will ever include more than 20 students because doctoral candidates require a high level of support from faculty, especially when writing their dissertations.

Huegel said the day after the announcement, she heard from 35 people interested in the program.

Wylie said the students “will be a very selective group of professionals who want to move into senior management at small colleges or nonprofits.’’

He added that for at least five years, current employees of Endicott cannot enroll in the program. “It is important that it is not perceived as a way for us to get our own people a doctorate,’’ he said.

Wylie expects the program to elicit interest from people across the country. “Boston and the area are such a draw for people who want to move into leadership roles,’’ he said.

Interested applicants can call Endicott’s graduate school with questions, and information will be on the college’s website, www.endicott.edu, in four to six weeks. The program will begin accepting applications in early March.

Wylie added the college will probably pursue two or three other areas of doctoral study in the next few years. “We won’t go heavy into doctoral programs, but we’ll identify specific areas where there is a need that we think we can fill,’’ he said.

He emphasized that the college will remain “a student-focused institution,’’ as opposed to a research institution.

Nancy Harrington, a past president of Salem State University and chairman of the academic subcommittee of the Board of Higher Education, said, “I think it’s incredible we have a doctoral program on the North Shore, and it’s about time.’’

Harrington, who led Salem State from 1990 to 2007 and is now retired, said advanced degrees are becoming increasingly important. “Most students pursue their doctoral studies late in the afternoon or evenings. A trek into Boston or to another part of the state is overwhelming at the end of the day. It’s important for our citizens to have the opportunity to study locally.

“It speaks to the vitality of the region.’’

Wendy Killeen can be reached at wdkilleen@gmail.com.

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