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First Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership Degrees to be Awarded

First Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) -- Educational Leadership to be awarded May 5.

Kristin Eldridge, Student Reporter, Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office, 5-3-2012

Mankato, Minn. – More than 1,500 students will receive degrees at Minnesota State University, Mankato’s May 5 graduation ceremonies, but for four graduates of the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)—Educational Leadership program, the day will have special significance.

The four students – Paul Peterson of St. Peter, Minn., Lori Bird of Owatonna, Minn., Mary Dowd of Mankato and Kelly Meier of North Mankato – represent the first graduates of a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)—Educational Leadership program offered in Minnesota State Mankato’s College of Education.

The 56-credit program’s first cohort started with 15 students in the fall of 2009. The program prepares educational practitioners for positions in a wide variety of settings. Graduates may serve as PK-12 public administrators; leaders of alternative educational organizations and charter schools; administrators of non-profit organizations; administrators in higher education; and leaders in experiential education organizations or university/college faculty.

Peterson, the principal at St. Peter High School, said he enrolled in the program for a professional stretch and for the educational element and challenge. He said he was honored to be accepted into the program because he considers the College of Education to be a “cutting edge” department at Minnesota State Mankato.

Peterson is aware of the other institutions in the area but said he believes Minnesota State Mankato was the best choice. He described the faculty as bright, challenging, exceptional, and dedicated to quality. He said the classes were applicable and relevant to his research and to his field of experience.

Students enrolling in the program, said Peterson, should have “their eyes wide open, [this program] will challenge your thinking and push you, and it will give you a tremendous feeling when you finish.”

Bird, director of the Center for Mentoring and Induction on campus, is dedicated to producing student teachers that are effective in the classroom. She plans to stay in the field of higher education and wanted to learn new tools and tactics of mentoring and improve the program itself for student, faculty and staff.

She said that being a part of the Educational Leadership program has given her a stronger desire to seek out publications that will allow her to share her findings in her research. She also wants to improve the system of student teaching and share with others the effective ways of doing so.

Bird said she was very grateful for the opportunity to enroll and be a part of the first graduating cohort. She said that most programs like this are offered only in the Twin Cities and not in southern Minnesota, making it inconvenient to enroll. When the College of Education started the program, it was a big step and meant accessibility and proximity because she works in the school.

Bird said the best thing about the program for her was that the “camaraderie that the group of students formed has become a support group for each one.”

She said the course work is meaningful and applicable, and that the research she did overlapped with the program, making it much more rewarding for her.

Peterson and Bird are excited to graduate and encourage students in the program or considering the program to be encouraged, and know they will be challenged.

“If it’s a desire, it is achievable and very much worth the effort,” said Bird.

Minnesota State Mankato’s doctorate program coordinator is Scott Wurdinger. He can be reached by email at

More information on the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership offered by the College of Education at Minnesota State Mankato can be found at

The May 5 graduation ceremonies at Minnesota State Mankato will be at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. in Bresnan Arena of Taylor Center. The College of Education will award degrees in the noon ceremony.

More information about the Minnesota State Mankato spring commencement is at

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,649 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 32 state institutions.

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