Howard Payne University graduated the first group of students from the university's new Master of Education in Instructional Leadership degree program at HPU's Commencement ceremony in May. Susan Fisher of Clint, Ken Parson of Bangs and Ricardo Rios of El Paso received the degree.

Fisher graduated summa cum laude, and Parson and Rios graduated magna cum laude. Students must earn a grade point average (GPA) of 3.85-4.0 to receive summa cum laude honors and a GPA of 3.70-3.84 to receive magna cum laude honors.

"I am extremely excited about the quality and depth of character each of these graduates exhibit," said Dr. Michael Rosato, dean of HPU's School of Education. "They will be a true asset to the students and teachers whom they will serve in their future role as public school administrators."

The program is designed for those who desire to become certified principals in the state of Texas. The course curriculum is aligned with the state standards for principal certification and provides students with a balanced combination of theory and practical application.

All coursework for the 36-hour, non-thesis program is completed online and is designed to be flexible to accommodate the busy, non-traditional student.

"The program is distinctive because it is synchronous," said Dr. Joe Robinson, associate professor of education and director of the program. "The classes are delivered via live chat, where students can see the instructor, pose questions and get responses immediately. It is much more interactive than similar online programs available. HPU provides a sense of community that is important to these professionals."

According to Robinson, the May graduates are now in the process of completing exams which will allow them to apply for principal certification.

For more information about the program, visit http://hpu.educampusonline.com or call the School of Education at (325) 649-8203.