Murray State to graduate new class of doctors

Photo contributed by Paige Rogers

Story by Ashley Traylor, News Editor

Murray State was one of the first postsecondary institutions in the nation to provide an innovative and integrated P-20 approach to educational leadership and will reach a major milestone at the December commencement ceremony.

The Doctor of Education in P20 and Community Leadership will graduate its first cohort of students on Dec. 9. This is the second doctoral level program to be implemented at Murray State, as the first was the Doctor of Nursing Practice, began in 2012.

These students come from all sectors of education and other community organizations and will have a major impact on the direction our region takes in the coming years,” Program Director Randal Wilson and assistant professor of College of Education and Human Services, said. “By graduating its first cohort of EdD students, MSU has proven its ability to recruit, retain and educate students at the doctoral level.”  

The program places an emphasis on the P-20 philosophy. This relatively new educational concept provides an innovative look into how education, beginning at the early childhood stage through an individual’s career, can have an impact on the community that surrounds them.

I think the P-20 focus of the program is timely, Assistant Dean for the College of Education and Human Services, Robert Lyons, said. “Today, innovation seems to flow where collaboration and partnerships between schools, businesses and other community partners are nurtured.”

Collaboration, leadership and innovation are key pillars to the program. It is expected that graduates of the program will become agents of change and pioneer new innovations in the field of education in their respective communities.  

The program will graduate 16 students in its first cohort. Program faculty member, Teresa Clark said this should serve as motivation for the other three cohorts continuing its studies, especially when it comes to the dissertation.

“The graduation of our first doctoral students signifies the culmination of three years of classes, assignments, and ultimately, the dissertation,” Clark said.

One of those students, Leann Pickerill, who works for the Kentucky Department of Education in Frankfort, drove over five hours each month to take part in the hybrid program.

“As a life-long learner, I had always entertained the possibility of obtaining a doctorate,” Pickerill said. “I felt strongly that the program at Murray State met all the criteria I had in mind and was affordable for our family.”

Students are able to choose one of three specializations: science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), pK-12 or postsecondary.

College and Career and Social Studies teacher at Heath Middle School, Brian Schooley said he chose the postsecondary specialization to provide more job opportunities in the future.

“I have always wanted to teach on the collegiate level and that track would give me the option to teach students from 6th grade to postsecondary,” Schooley said.

Wilson said the program is currently taking applications for the fifth cohort. Application review will begin in March with the priority application deadline being Feb. 15.

Admission requirements include: a master’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or above; GRE score detailing verbal, quantitative and analytical categories; professional resume; minimum of three years experience in p-12, postsecondary or related community setting; letter of intent, statement from employer; professional essays as part of the application; and a successful interview with graduate faculty.

Applications, which can be found at will be accepted until April 1.

The College of Education and Human Services will host a hooding ceremony on Friday, Dec. 8 at 5:30 p.m. in Wrather Auditorium with a reception to follow in Alexander Hall.

Graduation will be Dec. 9 at 9 a.m. at the CFSB Center.

Students needing additional tickets to this year’s commencement ceremony may request them between Nov. 29 and Dec. 8 at the CFSB Center Ticket Office located on the lower level lobby A. The ticket office is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.