AURORA -- University of Colorado administrators and a professor presented a new degree proposal Wednesday for a Ph.D. in comparative ethnic studies, which drew sharp criticism from some regents and appreciation from others.

The proposal is in the pipeline on the Boulder campus.

Earlier in the day, the regents approved a new bachelor's degree in ethnic studies for CU's Denver campus, but Republican regents Jim Geddes and Sue Sharkey voted against it.

Geddes and Sharkey expressed concerns about job opportunities upon graduation and the perception of liberal bias among the faculty in liberal arts programs.

That criticism carried through when Boulder campus representatives described the proposal for the doctoral program.

The regents likely won't vote on the Boulder campus degree proposal until early next year, possibly February. But the board has been hearing updates about degree proposals as they're being developed.

Separately, Regent Kyle Hybl, R-Colorado Springs, gave notice to the board that he'll be bringing forward a resolution in February to refresh the way new degrees are approved, with campuses coming up with "academic priorities." The process has been the same since 1997.

CU-Boulder Provost Russ Moore told the board there are emerging fields that demand graduates with advanced degrees in ethnic studies -- for example, political analysts who may be studying the impact of the Latino vote.


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During the discussion, Democratic Regent Irene Griego said she did her dissertation on multicultural education, which gave her a strong foundation for her teaching, principal and superintendent careers. Now she's coordinating the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for schools in Jefferson County.

Regent Stephen Ludwig, chairman of the academic affairs committee, raised the concern of too many Ph.D. programs in higher education.

"We know that we have a Ph.D. glut in this country," he said. "We're cranking out a lot of Ph.D.s that there are not job placements for."

CU professor Daryl Maeda, chairman of the ethnic studies department, said students in the degree program would gain a powerful skill set with training on how to conduct research, digest vast knowledge and write and communicate effectively.

CU President Bruce Benson suggested that the Boulder campus prepare a list of courses that would be offered for the Ph.D. program, so regents could better grasp the cross-cultural offerings planned for the degree.

"The world is changing, and we need to understand what the rest of the world is doing," he said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.