Northern Michigan University is collaborating with Central Michigan University on a program that will allow students to seamlessly transition from the specialist in education degree to the doctorate in educational leadership. Thirty-one students are enrolled this fall in the first classes for the Ed.S., which NMU is responsible for programming and awarding. CMU will deliver the Ed.D. content and confer that degree. “This is the first such partnership I’m aware of and it will serve as a model for collaboration in the state,” said Rodney Clarken, associate dean of the NMU School of Education. “Two universities that might be considered competitors are instead working together on being good stewards of state, university and student resources while developing quality school leaders.” The three faculty members involved in delivering Northern's portion of the program are Derek Anderson, Dennis Stanek and June Schaefer. Anderson had enrolled in CMU's doctoral program at a satellite location in Escanaba and graduated in 2006. “At first I thought NMU should consider offering its own doctorate to take advantage of its status in the Upper Peninsula in terms of respect for its education programs and loyalty to the university," said Anderson. "But it wasn’t practical with the population base to sustain that, so we developed something that would be a win-win for both institutions. As we establish a rotation, maybe we’ll offer this every four or five years so people can plan ahead.” Anderson said Northern’s Ed.S. program had struggled, but making it part of a strategic segue to Central’s doctorate has increased its value and enrollment. Central benefits, he added, because students who complete up to 24 credits at NMU are obviously committed to an education beyond the master’s level, so it increases the likelihood they will complete their Ed.D. degree. Stanek added, “It’s a good fit because there is very little difference between the Ed.S. here and at Central. Both are rural-thinking institutions. And by partnering with us, Central knows what kind of students they’re going to get and are satisfied with that. They don’t have to guess as they would with someone getting an Ed.S. elsewhere.” Students benefit because the partnership will offer graduates of NMU’s program priority admission to CMU’s program and reduce the redundancy of courses as they transition between the two. Courses will be offered through a “hybrid” format combining face-to-face and interactive television (ITV) instruction. "Educators throughout the Upper Peninsula have made an investment in this and it's exciting for them to have this opportunity to further their graduate work through the doctoral program," added Schaefer.