For Immediate Release
July 19, 2007

UTB/TSC First Doctorate Degree Approved

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College’s first doctorate degree Thursday, July 19, during a board meeting in Austin. 

“Of all degrees we could have chosen to do as our first, this one we felt was very important because of the impact we could have on our community,” UTB/TSC President Dr. Juliet V. Garcia said after the degree was unanimously approved. “The degree not only opens the door for the university, but the impact will be immediate to the region in terms of quality of instruction.” 

The program’s first cohort of 15 doctoral candidates, chosen by faculty, will begin classes this fall. Fifteen more students will be added each of the next five years. Students who enter each year will go through the program as a group, supporting each other along the way. 

Robert W. Shepard, chairman of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and a former chairman of The University of Texas at Brownsville Development Board, also marked the significance of the doctoral degree for the university. 

“This is a huge day in the life of UTB/TSC,” he said. “It’s only fitting because they can really excel in this area. I am extremely proud and very thrilled about this.” 

Dr. Joe Stafford, assistant commissioner for Academic Affairs and Research, made the presentation to the coordinating board. Fifteen years ago, Stafford, then with UT System, was instrumental in the establishment of the partnership between UTB and TSC.  

“I take special pleasure in this on a different level,” Stafford said. “A little more than 15 years ago, the partnership was created, and now in 15 years, there are 15,000 students and now their first doctorate. We are finding out what kind of partnership this can be.” 

The doctoral program is designed to prepare education professionals to understand curriculum issues from elementary school through college and how they apply to bilingual learning.  

School of Education Dean Dr. Carl Stockton said approval of the degree was the result of about three and a half years of preparation. 

 “A lot of challenges met us along the way, but we were always up for the challenge,” he said. “It speaks volumes of the expertise of the faculty to the nation.” 

The approval for the degree comes as the university marks another milestone in its history: celebrating the 15-year partnership between UTB and TSC, Garcia said. 

“It feels very natural to have this happen now as the university celebrates the 15-year partnership,” Garcia said. “I always had high expectations of what we could achieve.” 

The UT System Board of Regents approved the doctoral program last November and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools gave its approval in December 2006. Coordinating Board personnel and education experts visited the campus in April.

This year, more than 5,000 students, or one-third of all students enrolled at UTB/TSC, took classes in the School of Education. As a foundation for the doctorate, the university offers 12 master’s programs and 16 undergraduate degrees leading to teacher certification. 

A celebration of the new degree will be at 4 p.m., Friday, July 20, in the Education and Business Complex, School of Education foyer.  

For more information, please contact the program director Dr. Bobbette Morgan at 

More information is also available at