JSU’s executive PH.D. program attracts underrepresented minority groups

Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 2:04 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - You may know someone who has a Ph.D. in your family, at work, or in your community.

According to the United Census Bureau, the number of Americans with a Ph.D. has more than doubled since 2000.

That increase is also seen in the minority population, but there is still more work to be done.

Jackson State agrees.

JSU’s Executive Ph.D. Program in Urban Higher Education is preparing to celebrate 20 years. They are gearing up to attract even more leaders, especially from minority communities.

Class is in session at JSU. These students are part of the two-year intensive Executive Ph.D. Program. It is designed to prepare individuals for senior-level positions in everything from education to academic affairs and finance.

“The program was developed as an accelerated Ph.D. program in higher education administration, particularly in urban areas,” said Dr. Walter A. Brown.

Dr. Brown is a professor and the executive director of the program in the College of Education. He says since 2004, the enrollment has continued to grow.

“In 2004, I think the first cohort, we had 25 students,” he said. “Since then, we have housed two cohorts per year, averaging 19 to 20 students. Most of the students in our program do come from minority communities.”

Cory Edmonds works at North Carolina Central University in student affairs. He is a Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and was encouraged to join the program by some of his frat brothers.

He hopes more people, especially the underrepresented communities, take advantage of the program.

“I think access has historically played a role in us earning specific levels of education,” Edmonds said. “I think this program kind of brings that exposure. I think population-wise, we may never exceed other racial groups or different identity groups in terms of numbers, but I think the number of PhDs in our community may grow as members of this cohort go off into the world and continue into our professional practice.”

Cara Gilbeau lives in Louisiana and works at a university in New Orleans. She travels monthly to Jackson State to be part of the program.

“We are still needing to push the needle even sometimes within the executive cabinet role. You don’t see sometimes a lot of women in those different positions that sit at the executive cabinet, so again diversity is really important,” Gilbeau said.

As the program approaches the 20-year mark in 2024, JSU says they plan to increase their efforts to push the importance of higher education, diversity, and building transformative leaders.

“I think that, as long as we have programs like this who admits minority candidates for a doctoral program in the area of higher education, I think it will add to the credibility of those persons who graduate in assume the leadership roles,” said Dr. Brown.

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