August 27, 2020

SUNY Empire State College Launches its First Doctoral Program with Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Change

Program Will Prepare Educators to Lead in a Time of Pivotal Change for Educational Systems

Flexible Online Format Designed for Busy Professionals; Program Will Start in 2021

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(SARATOGA SPRINGS, NEW YORK – August 27, 2020) SUNY Empire State College today announced its first doctoral program in the college’s nearly 50-year existence, the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Change, to prepare current educational leaders to advance their education and careers while learning how to lead positive change in colleges, universities, and communities. 

As educational systems face mounting challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic and a rapidly changing workforce, the program will address both day-to-day and long-term issues confronting educators to prepare them for leadership positions in higher education institutions. Applied coursework will focus on educational trends, organizational issues, and policy, including rigorous training in research methodology enabling graduates to analyze challenges facing their institutions in a broader national and global context. The 54-credit program can be completed in three years, almost entirely online.

The program is designed for working professionals, including faculty, college deans, assistant deans, and other academic administrators. SUNY Empire’s flexible degree program will allow candidates to earn the degree on their own time, at their convenience. Candidates will receive a comprehensive learning experience that seamlessly delivers courses online, in a collaborative virtual environment.

“This is an exciting moment for the growth of Empire State College with our first-ever doctoral program in Educational Leadership and Change,” said State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras. “SUNY Empire’s statewide footprint and robust online learning platforms will ensure educators can advance their learning and careers around the demands of their busy schedules. We are facing historic challenges in and out of the classroom that go well beyond the immediate pandemic – now is the time to drive change smartly and intentionally to build the educational systems of the future. This program will do just that.”

“Graduates will complete the program with advanced qualifications to lead academic institutions, utilizing action research methods to analyze real challenges that impact higher education,” said SUNY Empire State College Provost Meg Benke. “They will be empowered to reimagine how students learn, how educators teach, and how we communicate with our communities. SUNY Empire’s community college partners have been particularly eager to have this flexible program available for their faculty, staff, and administrators.”

“Approval of the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Change is a defining moment for SUNY Empire,” said SUNY Empire State College Dean of the School for Graduate Studies Nathan Gonyea. “It finalizes the goal at our founding almost 50 years ago to provide opportunity to individuals across New York state to access all levels of higher education from undergraduate certificates to doctoral degrees. I want to thank all of the faculty and staff who have worked over the course of many years to make our first doctorate possible.”

SUNY Empire has appointed Dr. Ali Ait Si Mhamed as associate professor and founding coordinator of the program, beginning September 1. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy from SUNY Buffalo, an M.Sc. in Education from D’Youville College, and a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature with a special focus on Linguistics from Université Ibnou Zohr in Morocco. He comes to SUNY Empire from the Graduate School of Education at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan, where he served as associate professor in the Graduate School of Education. His principal areas of research include research methods, advance quantitative research, policy and reform in education, and higher education finance.

“As someone who has twice graduated from SUNY Empire State College, most recently with a Master of Arts in learning and emerging technologies, I am thrilled that there is another opportunity for educators and other alums to continue their education,” said Scott Dolphin, SUNY Empire State College alumnus. “SUNY Empire offers such a rich, online curriculum, and the addition of this program couldn’t be more timely. I am seriously considering pursuing my Ed.D. from SUNY Empire to become a triple grad.”

SUNY Empire currently offers more than 800 courses within 110 degree programs, all available online. Additional details on SUNY Empire State College’s Ed.D. in Leadership and Change can be found here.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College educates 16,000 students per year in person, online, and through a blend of both, at campuses and learning hubs located in every region of New York state, and at eight international sites worldwide. Together with one of SUNY Empire’s 800 faculty mentors, each student designs their own individualized pathway to a college degree that accommodates their schedule and awards credit for prior college-level learning. SUNY Empire awards more than 3,000 degrees annually and 94 percent of graduates stay in New York state. Today, more than 89,000 SUNY Empire alumni are entrepreneurs, veterans, and active members of the military, professional athletes, teachers, medical professionals, and leaders in their field, as well as in their communities. To learn more, visit