A child born in Elgin now can start kindergarten and complete a Ph.D -- without having to leave the city.
So, Judson University's announcement Monday that it would offer its first doctoral degree -- a doctorate of education in literacy -- fits in nicely with the city's goals; education is part of nine key parts of the city's strategic plan.
While the city has no direct control over educating the city's students, Mayor David Kaptain has led a push to work with Elgin's educational institutions in the name of attracting more people to the community.
"This is the cherry at the end of the day for us," Kaptain said. "That we can provide a Ph.D. program, a doctoral program, in Elgin."
The city already has two school districts serving its children -- Elgin Area School District U-46 and Central Unit District 301 -- along with Elgin Community College and Judson.
Until now, students interested in spending their entire educational careers in Elgin had to stop at a master's. But Judson will welcome its first cohort of doctoral students in January 2014. Applications for the program are due July 15, and co-director Gillian Stewart-Wells expects the first class to have no more than nine students.
Work on creating the doctoral program started in 2009. Curriculum directors from U-46, literacy coaches from Crystal Lake, and area school principals helped create the courses and outlined the dissertation process, which is built into the curriculum instead of being left to doctoral candidates at the end of their studies.
The university just received accreditation May 31 and made the formal announcement for the program Monday during the Literacy in Motion conference, which brings educators from across the world to discuss literacy strategies.
Judson President Gene Crume pointed to the national focus on education from the city council to the federal government as proof that leaders recognize that not all students have the skills they need.
"Having great teachers with a stronger background in literacy education is one way to address that nationally, locally and globally," Crume said.
As students work through their Ph.D. programs at Judson, Kaptain just hopes the community will see some of the fruits of their labor. He is already pushing partnership opportunities for doctoral candidates to conduct research in Elgin schools -- an idea Crume expects will work well.
"There's no greater gift to a doctoral student than to have your research be meaningful and applied," Crume said. "I see great connections."
An open house with information about the program will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Lindner Commons at Judson, 1151 N. State St. Visit judsonu.edu for details.