Kutztown University Logo

October 19, 2020

First Ed.D. Graduates

KU Celebrates First Graduating Cohort of the Education Doctorate Program

Members of KU's first cohort of Ed.D. graduates.

When Marlene Fares was searching for a doctorate program, she was drawn to Kutztown University’s emphasis on social justice and change in educational settings.

“The program itself is rooted in social justice and our role as educators to support both the current and future generation of students,” Fares said. “It’s critical work –thinking about what we can do to improve students’ experiences with education in an inclusive, loving, accessible and welcoming way.”

Fares is one of 10 students who graduated in May as part of KU’s first cohort of the Education Doctorate in Transformational Teaching and Learning. The Ed.D. program is unique in that it is meant for professionals who want to continue working directly with students and transform their educational space to promote social change.

“Five years ago, the KU faculty realized the time was ripe to reimagine and reinvent the education doctorate,” said Dr. Patricia Walsh Coates, Ed.D. program director. “Based on the principles of the Carnegie Program on the Education Doctorate, or CPED, we designed a program that aims to empower practitioners to expand their pedagogical knowledge and skills beyond that of simple technical expertise and to become ‘transformative intellectuals.’”

The program is a cohort-based model that offers both in-person and online instruction. The cohort studies and works together over the course of the three-year program, building relationships and providing support that Fares said was critical to her success.

“The cohort model is phenomenal because of what it does for us as students,” Fares said. “If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed or experiencing a challenging time, you had friends to lift you up and support you. My dissertation was stronger as a result of the cohort.  Classmates would offer advice or a viewpoint that perhaps I would not have considered, and that encouraged me to do further research and adjust the methodology.”

About a year into the three-year program, Fares began working for KU as an academic advisor for first-year exploratory studies students. With a doctorate in hand, she hopes to continue the work she started during the program.

“Professionally, I’m happy where I am and I love what I do. I am also interested in teaching, as well as continuing the research that I started and just doing more to support students,” Fares said. “This doctorate has absolutely created more opportunity for me, not just the degree itself but the knowledge and insight that I’ve gained.”

Congratulations to all the graduates, and best wishes as they continue their careers as education professionals.

By Leanne Recla for the Summer 2020 Tower magazine.