VSU ED.D. Students Move Dissertation Defenses to a Virtual Platform
COVID-19 forces use of Non- Traditional Platform for Doctoral Students to complete degree
VIRGINIA STATE UNIVERSITY, VA- Candidates Mecca Marsh, Aurelia Ortiz, and Maia Johnson had long imagined defending their dissertations, the final step in the process of earning an Ed.D. in educational administration and supervision through the Department of Educational Leadership in Virginia State University’s College of Education. Under the guidance of their dissertation advisor, Dr. Michael McIntosh, and committee members Drs. Pascal Barreau and Melissa Johnson, they envisioned themselves making their presentations in a Harris Hall classroom before a panel of faculty and staff. The coronavirus pandemic dramatically shifted their plans. Marsh, Ortiz and Johnson’s defenses, held the week of April 6th, looked nothing like they thought it would, due to the need for social distancing. Instead, each candidate defended their dissertation from their homes while committee members, family, and friends interacted via Zoom. Each candidate had about 20 guests in attendance on the virtual web conferencing platform. Family, friends, and colleagues were able to witness each candidate articulate their research findings, share innovative implications for practice, and respond to questions from their respective dissertation committees. Their research topics ranged from student-athletes and career development to an investigation of the coping mechanisms of teachers working in high needs schools to transforming education through trauma-informed care. “The way our faculty, staff, and students were able to organize their defenses in a virtual platform proves the innovation and commitment to student success in our program,” said Dr. James Norman, department chair of VSU’s Department of Educational Leadership. “We didn’t want the University transitioning to remote instruction to prevent students from reaching this important milestone. Plus, this was an opportunity for us to put our new distance learning protocols in place that were developed as a result of our newly approved Online Ed.D. program,” said Dr. Kristal M. Clemons, assistant professor of educational leadership.
The new program Dr. Clemons mentioned is the new online Ed.D. in Educational Administration & Supervision. It is Virginia State University’s first fully online doctoral program. The program prepares education leaders and scholarly practitioners to become knowledgeable about organizational systems. It is designed for working professionals, with an earned master’s degree and relevant professional experience.
Newly minted Drs. Marsh, Ortiz, and Johnson have blazed a trail. They are examples of the mission of the College of Education and are true representatives of what it means to be reflective practitioners who are competent, caring and culturally responsive. They exemplify all that is possible in the field of education.
“A DREAM DEFERRED: A QUANTITATIVE STUDY INVESTIGATING STUDENT-ATHLETES ATTITUDES TOWARDS CAREER DEVELOPMENT”
“AN INVESTIGATION OF COPING MECHANISMS FOR TEACHERS WHO EXPERIENCE CHRONIC STRESS AND TRAUMA AS A RESULT OF WORKING IN HIGHNEEDS SCHOOLS”
“TRANSFORMING EDUCATION VIA TRAUMA-INFORMED CARE: ALTERING PERCEPTIONS PROJECTED ONTO STUDENTS WITH UNDERLYING TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES”
The news comes as VSU unveils its new Strategic Plan, “Preeminence with Purpose.” The 2020-2025 plan for Virginia State University (VSU) centers on sustained excellence. It sets forth the next chapter in the University’s continued growth, focusing on six areas: Student Opportunity and Access, Academic Excellence, The Holistic Experience for Students, Enhancing the Land Grant Mission of the University, The VSU Brand and Financial/Operational Effectiveness.