YSU awaits OK for doctoral program




The Youngstown State University Board of Trustees has done its part for the university to begin offering a doctor of philosophy degree in materials science and engineering.

Now, it’s up to the Ohio Chancellor of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools to evaluate the plan and, it is hoped, give their approvals.

The trustees passed a resolution in June approving the offering of the research doctorate, YSU’s first PhD.

The program has been under consideration since fall 2008, said Martin Abraham, dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The trustees approved the creation of a Center of Excellence in science and engineering a year ago, and the creation of this high-level degree is part of that process, he said, predicting it will build on the success of existing programs in the field.

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland recently said that YSU is an “emerging” center of excellence in materials science and engineering, and the university needs this degree to advance beyond the “emerging” stage, Abraham said.

The university won a recommendation for approval last week from the Ohio Regents’ Advisory Committee on Graduate Study, and that recommendation now goes to Eric Fingerhut, Chancellor of Higher Education, for his approval after a 10-day public-comment period.

Once that is in place, the proposal goes to the Higher Learning Commission, according to Abraham.

The commission will do a site visit to examine YSU’s facilities and faculty to be assigned to the program and hopefully grant its approval next spring, allowing enrollment of students for the fall 2011 term, he said.

Bege Bowers, associate provost, academic programs and planning, told the YSU trustees that the university has been in discussions with the Higher Learning Commission, and approval seems likely.

“We’re in pretty good shape, said Peter Kasvinsky, associate provost for research and dean of graduate studies and research.

YSU already has doctorates in physical therapy (DPT) and educational leadership (Ed.D.), and that enhances the university’s position in dealing with the Higher Learning Commission, he told the trustees.

The plan is to start with three students, each of whom will receive a $23,500 stipend and free tuition. The goal is to gradually expand the program to 12 students, with faculty generating money needed to run the program through research grants.

Trustee Leonard Schiavone asked if there is sufficient interest in the program.

Abraham said there are more people applying for this type of program than there are seats available worldwide.

There also has been a favorable response from local industry interested in students in the field, Abraham said, noting that will mean the availability of internships.

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