Judson University Launches First Ever Doctorate Program in Literacy Education
(Elgin, IL – June 17, 2013) In the past 50 years since Judson University settled in Elgin, Ill., the strength and depth of the school’s academics have grown into an evangelical Christian university of the liberal arts, sciences and professions offering more than 60 majors and minors to traditional undergraduate, graduate and adult professionals. Now, as the university celebrates its Golden Centennial, it is launching its first-ever doctoral program, a Doctor of Education (EdD) in Literacy.
The formal announcement was made at 10 a.m. today in Judson’s Lindner Commons as the School of Education kicked off its annual “Literacy in Motion” conference, a four-day seminar that invites literacy experts to speak to more than 200 educators annually. Dr. Steven Layne, author, literacy expert, and Director of Judson’s Master of Education in Literacy Program, opened the conference with a stirring opening address that recalled the teachers that have made a lasting impact in his own life. Following that, he invited Dr. Gillian Stewart-Wells, fellow School of Education professor, to join him for their special announcement of the new EdD program, which the two have built together.
“Those of you that have been a part of Literacy in Motion since the beginning may remember us mentioning the possibility of a doctoral program back then,” Dr. Layne reminded the crowd. “We are proud to announce that three and a half years of hard work has finally paid off. On May 31, 2013, Judson University’s Doctor of Education in Literacy was approved by the Higher Learning Commission.”
The audience erupted in applause at the announcement.
Prior to the public announcement at the Literacy in Motion conference, Esther Martin, assistant superintendent from Central Community Unit District 301, and Lindsay Allen, principal of Southbury School in Oswego District 308 were present for a press announcement, along with Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain.
Kaptain gave several remarks on the benefits of having Judson’s EdD program in Elgin, saying that the endeavor aligned with the City Council’s strategic goal to make education a key priority for the community. When people move to Elgin, he said, the City wants their children to get an excellent education in all areas of learning. Judson’s new doctoral program will allow the City of Elgin to say that its residents can receive a quality education from preschool through the doctorate level, all within city limits, said Kaptain.
District 301 Superintendent Dr. Todd Stirn, who was unable to be present for the announcement, expressed his excitement in a statement to the university.
“I could not be more pleased to hear that Judson University was approved to offer a doctoral degree in Education with a focus on literacy,” said Stirn. “The Judson Master of Education in Literacy Program is exceptional, as evidenced by how it has shaped the practice of Central teachers who have completed the program. I am grateful to Dr. Steven Layne, Dr. Gillian Stewart-Wells and Judson University for their partnership to improve literacy education across our region and look forward to the success of the new doctoral program.”
An open house will be held from 4 – 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19 in the Lindner Commons for those interested in enrolling in the new EdD program. Several Judson faculty will be available to speak with doctoral candidates about the application process and academic requirements.
“Judson’s first doctoral program is responding to both a need our data has evidenced and a request our constituency has made,” explained Layne, who co-directs the program with Stewart-Wells.
The EdD in Literacy grows out of the university’s Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Literacy program, which launched in 2008. Building on the strength of its bachelor’s program, the School of Education established the M.Ed. in Literacy to provide certified teachers with extensive experience and research in reading and writing methodology. Along with the Masters of Education in Literacy program, Judson offers graduate degrees in Architecture and Organizational Leadership.
The EdD spent three years in the hands of a design team led by Layne and Stewart-Wells, with a goal of creating a doctoral program in literacy education that is totally unique. Layne says the committee was intentional about their decision not to model the doctorate after other institutions’ literacy programs.
“Our EdD in literacy was designed to blend best practice and scholarly proficiency,” said Layne. “Our purpose is to graduate literacy leaders who are equipped to serve their schools and communities and who are interested in contributing to the profession in significant ways. Judson has the people, the plan, and the reputation in literacy to make it all happen in a way that honors God.”
Candidates accepted into the three-year EdD will be part of distinct cohorts made up of only seven to nine participants. The dissertation component will be faculty and peer-supported throughout the duration of the program to encourage a robust and pragmatic research experience, says Stewart-Wells. Other highlights of the program are trips to the International Reading Association and the Literacy Research Association’s national conferences, a nearly-weeklong “writer’s retreat,” with published authors, and Skyping sessions with authors and experts in the field of literacy.
“Candidates can expect a great deal from the courses as well, each one designed by a scholar who has remained current in the field and who is a gifted teacher in his or her own right,” explained Stewart-Wells. “Graduates will complete this program, not only as leaders in the field of literacy, but confident in their writing, speaking, and research practice as well.”
Dr. Gene Crume, Judson’s President, summed up the excitement of the university’s first doctoral program by tying it to the university’s namesake, Adoniram Judson, the first American missionary abroad in Burma.
“The announcement could not have come at a more blessed time for Judson as we celebrate our Golden Centennial. When I think about Adoniram Judson and the Bible that he translated for the Burmese people, I feel a deep resonance that this announcement of Judson’s new Doctor of Education in Literacy feels so purposeful.”
Those interested in learning more about Judson’s new EdD can visit JudsonU.edu/literacydoctor.