By Paul Leighton
BEVERLY — The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education yesterday approved Endicott College's request to award a doctoral degree, making the former two-year women's school the first college on the North Shore with that distinction.
Endicott College President Richard Wylie said he expects the school to begin offering a doctoral program in educational leadership next fall.
"It's kind of like, 'Wow,'" Wylie said. "From a two-year women's college 25 years ago to having the first doctorate on the North Shore. It's a tribute to the whole college."
Wylie said the college began pursuing the doctoral program three years ago, when it saw the need for a program that prepares leaders for small to midsize educational and nonprofit organizations.
"I've seen doctoral programs that deal in how large universities operate and function," Wylie said. "There are far more small college and nonprofit organizations that nobody has focused on."
Wylie said the authorization to offer a doctorate degree does not mean that Endicott College will pursue university status.
Offering a doctorate program used to be a prerequisite for a Massachusetts college to become a university, but Wylie said that is no longer the case. In July 2010, Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill that transformed nine state colleges, including Salem State, into universities.
"This was not done to become a university," Wylie said. "I don't want to join the masses. The more colleges that went to universities, the less selective it became, and that's not a criticism."
Wylie said he prefers that Endicott remain a college and keep the emphasis on teaching and learning rather than on the research and publishing requirements of university faculty members. He said he resigned as a dean at the University of Colorado over the firing of a good teacher because of the teacher's lack of research work.
"I never want to be at a university where the connection between the teacher and the student is not a priority," he said. "Our faculty are writing books, doing grants, but they're still going to be evaluated on the quality of their teaching and the quality of their students' learning."
Wylie has been president of Endicott College since 1987. The college began admitting male students in 1994. The school now has 2,300 undergraduate students and 2,700 adult and graduate students. Tuition, room and board is $39,890.
The new doctoral program will be led by Jo Ann Gammel, who will join Endicott in January. Wylie credited Mary Huegel and Donna Buonopane, dean and assistant dean of Endicott Graduate School, for creating the new program.
"Full credit should be given to the many faculty and administrators who enthusiastically participated over a three-year period in developing program components and course syllabi," Huegel said in a press release. "It was truly a college-wide effort showing the best of Endicott College."
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.