Campus: Fullerton - May 18, 2007

Doctorates Being Awarded Through CSU/UC Alliance

CSUF's Inaugural Four Walk at Saturday's Commencement

Four local educators will make history Saturday at Cal State Fullerton's commencement ceremonies as the first recipients of a doctorate in education awarded at Fullerton through a joint program of the California State University and University of California.

The scholars will receive an Ed.D. in educational administration and leadership conferred jointly by Cal State Fullerton and UCI.

Cal State Fullerton is part of a five-campus consortium that also includes Cal State Long Beach, CSU Los Angeles and Cal Poly Pomona and was formed in 2003 to offer the joint doctoral program, in order to meet the state's educational leadership needs.

"It is an exciting time for Cal State Fullerton. This joint doctorate in education is a milestone for our university," said President Milton A. Gordon, who long sought to make the doctoral program a reality.

Gordon; Roberta Achtenberg, chair of the CSU Board of Trustees; and Claire Cavallaro, dean of the CSUF College of Education, will lead a special presentation Saturday to award the students their doctorates. The presentation will be part of the university's main commencement ceremony beginning at 8 a.m. on the sports fields north of Titan Gymnasium. The recipients will be recognized again at the 9:30 a.m. College of Education commencement exercise in the Titan Gym.

"It's a historic day for Cal State Fullerton. We're very proud of our first doctoral graduates, and we're pleased to have been a part of this joint program," Cavallaro said. "Through this partnership effort, we are producing more top-notch educational leaders who are committed to improving student learning in California's schools."

The doctoral candidates are: Sheila Coleman of Orange, a school superintendent; Dave Hernandez of Newport Beach, a kindergarten teacher; Cathy Patterson of Diamond Bar, an elementary learning specialist; and, Theresa Yoro of Lake Forest, an elementary literacy coach.

Each student has his or her personal and professional reasons for pursuing the doctorate — the highest academic degree awarded by a university. But their shared motivation is that they want to make a difference as educational practitioners and leaders to ultimately improve the education of K-12 students.

Coleman, who holds teaching and administration credentials, as well as a master's degree in curriculum and instruction, explained that education has been her lifelong passion. She has been an elementary school teacher, principal and is now the superintendent of the schools at Crystal Cathedral, the church and ministry her father, Robert Schuller, founded more than 50 years ago in Garden Grove.

In her present role, she supervises preschool through 12th grades, as well as serves as the director of family ministries, which includes programs for children, youth, men and women. She is also in the process of writing the curriculum for the Sunday school program.

"It was always a dream of mine to earn my doctorate, and when I learned about this program, I realized that it was an opportunity to make that dream come true," said Coleman, Schuller's eldest child and mother of four sons, one of whom is a CSUF graduate now in law school. "I also believed that in the process of earning the degree that I would become a better-equipped administrator and educational leader."

Coleman is already at the top of her profession, noting that she is currently "living her career goals." But as a former editor for her father's books and a published author who left that profession 15 years ago to enter the field of education, she hopes to write professionally again. Her focus will be on Sunday school curriculum, and inspirational and devotional writing for mothers and families.

Hernandez's mother, who was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Canada, inspired him to become an educator. She instilled in him a passion for reading and learning. He set his sights on a career in education, then switched to business because of the lure of a higher salary. He returned to his "first love of teaching" because he missed the profession and the impact he had on children.

"I really enjoyed the challenges in business, but the feelings of gratitude and appreciation similar to what I got from students was lacking," said Hernandez, who also holds three bachelor's degrees, a master's degree in teacher education, an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in executive management.

A kindergarten teacher at Newport Heights Elementary School in Newport Beach, Hernandez enrolled in the joint Ed.D. program to gain the knowledge and skills to become a school principal.

"Often teachers are skeptical of ideas and strategies from the business world being brought into and imposed upon the school environment," Hernandez said. "I felt that teachers would find it more palatable to follow a principal leader who had a doctoral degree in the field in which he was working."

His ultimate goal is to become a university professor and mentor doctoral students in their research.

Patterson, a former recreation director at Cal Poly Pomona, decided to earn her teaching credential in the early 1980s because she loved working with children. In 2002, she received a master's degree in education-educational administration from Cal State Fullerton.

As a learning specialist at Evergreen Elementary School in Diamond Bar, Patterson oversees the gifted program, supervises teacher aides and student teachers and handles discipline issues. "My position is very much like that of an assistant principal," she said, adding that the school district she works for does not have that specific job position.

She wanted to earn a doctorate to broaden her opportunities in education to one day become an elementary school principal.

"My hope is that by having the Ed.D., it will help me advance in my profession. I'm extremely proud to be part of CSUF's first doctoral graduates. It is an excellent university," Patterson said. "Perhaps most importantly, I love learning about my profession so I can be as accomplished as possible to provide the best experience I can for my students."

Yoro is a literacy coach at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Anaheim and supports teachers in developing skills to promote literacy achievement for the students they serve. She wanted to earn a doctorate so she could expand her skills as an educator and enhance student learning.

"As an educator I wanted to gain opportunities to positively impact the educational environments of struggling students," said Yoro, who earned two teaching credentials and a master's degree in reading at Cal State Fullerton. She said it is a thrill to be part of the university's joint doctoral program.

"I am honored to be counted among such a talented, dedicated and caring group of educators," said Yoro, who has also taught fourth and fifth grades and plans to eventually work in school administration.

Aside from the rigorous and challenging academic program, the doctoral candidates lauded the joint program's cohort model, high level of faculty support and quality of the course work.

"As a student, I enjoyed the access to a wider range of faculty members. I did draw on the intellect of the professors from the campuses from which I took classes," Hernandez said.

Added Coleman: "I learned how to approach leadership and educational decisions from a scholarly approach, as well as how to conduct research studies and analyze data, providing a firm foundation from which to lead the future."

Cal State Fullerton is in the final stages of the approval process to offer its own independent Ed.D., said Louise Adler, chair and professor of educational leadership. The joint doctoral program will be phased out, and the six students remaining in that program are expected to complete their dissertations next year, Adler said.

The university will be among the first campuses in the California State University system to independently offer the Ed.D. program, made possible when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed authorizing legislation in 2005.

"We're pleased to be among the first CSU campuses to receive approval from the chancellor to offer the independent doctoral program in education, which will give students a quality education to meet the demand for administrative leaders in California schools," Adler said.

Classes for the new, three-year doctoral program in educational leadership are expected to begin this fall. Students accepted in the first year of the program will specialize in preK-12 leadership, with a specialization in community college leadership offered in subsequent years. The program is designed for working professionals.

From the perspective of the Cal Sate Fullerton president, the new program figures prominently in the region's future: "I feel as strongly as I ever have that with the California State University system participating in this new, independent Ed.D. program, it's going to be a tremendous asset for the citizens and students of California," Gordon said. "The doctoral program opens up entire new careers for these students the next generation of educational leaders."

Coleman agreed that there is a big need for quality, affordable doctoral programs, such as Cal State Fullerton's.

"I am blessed to be part of the first doctoral graduates, for which I am indebted to the outstanding supportive faculty members and to my colleagues," Coleman said.

Applications for the new program are now being accepted. For more information about the doctoral degree and admissions requirements, visit

Contacts: Claire Cavallaro, dean, College of Education, 714-278-4021 or
Debra Cano Ramos, Public Affairs, 714-278-4027 or

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