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First doctoral degree to be awarded by Union University Aug. 7

JACKSON, Tenn.Aug. 5, 2004 – Among the 230 Union University graduates expected to cross the stage at West Jackson Baptist Church Aug. 7 will be the first 25 graduates of the doctoral program in educational leadership.

“The initiation of the doctoral program at Union was an obvious first within the university, but it was also a first for West Tennessee,” said Dr. Tom Rosebrough, dean of the College of Education and Human Studies. “It is important that West Tennessee people have the option of attending a private university for advanced education.”

Rosebrough will give the commencement address titled “Which Way is Home?”

During the Saturday ceremony, degrees will be conferred to graduates from both the Jackson and Germantown campuses. In addition to the awarding of degrees, doctoral students will each be formally hooded in academic regalia.

“This is an exciting and high watermark day for this university to graduate these well-prepared students in the doctor of education program,” President David S. Dockery said. “These graduates will make a significant difference in the quality of educational leadership throughout this region.

“I commend Dean Tom Rosebrough and the faculty of the College of Education and Human Studies for their exemplary commitment to this program and to all levels of educational leadership for West Tennessee,” Dockery said.

Graduates are poised to make an impact on the education community, according to Dr. Randy Shadburn, executive director of the Germantown campus.

“Our expectations for these students are for them to serve vital leadership positions in Memphis and Shelby County Schools,” Shadburn said. “We believe that these students are prepared to meet the challenges facing our schools today. They are well-grounded in the knowledge and faith required to make better schools.”

Cedrick Gray is one of 14 doctoral graduates from the Germantown campus. He looks forward to beginning his third year as assistant principal at White Station Middle School in Memphis as “Dr. Gray.” In the variety of decisions he is required to make each day, Gray relies on his values as well as knowledge.

“The education at Union is about more than just books,” Gray said. “We’ve been taught the right way to make those decisions because we have an institution that trains us to make decisions not only in the right way but in a way that would be pleasing to God.”

Rosebrough anticipates that graduates will apply “head and heart” knowledge to the profession. “Our hope is that they will be shining lights as they serve, both in terms of their advanced academic preparation and their values,” he said.

“The purpose of the doctorate in education is to posit important questions in educational research and seek significant applications in our local, state and national communities,” Rosebrough said.

Principal Vivian Hodges of Whitehall Elementary School in Jackson will receive her doctorate in the ceremony on Saturday.

“I started the program about six months after I got my principal job,” Hodges said. “I knew it was going to be difficult, but what I was learning within my coursework was applicable in my job as principal.”

Hodges said assignments often mirrored state requirements she was implementing at Whitehall Elementary.

“The program was wonderful and I will tell anyone that,” Hodges said. “You had support through the whole program; all of the professors were very approachable. I have been to several universities in getting additional coursework, and this was the most positive experience and the best education opportunity that I’ve had since high school.”

Media contact: Tabitha Frizzell, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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