By Chris McGuinness

Killeen Daily Herald

Texas A&M University-Central Texas bolstered its graduate degree programs by hiring a new associate vice president of graduate studies and research.

The university announced Monday that it selected Russell Porter, a researcher, author and a former captain in the United States Air Force, for the position.

Prior to being hired at the university, Porter worked as dean of graduate studies and continuing education at Shepherd University in West Virginia, associate dean at Ferris State University in Michigan, chair and graduate coordinator at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls and graduate coordinator at Clayton State University in Georgia.

According to a news release from Texas A&M-Central Texas, Porter received his bachelor's degree in economics from Binghamton University, a master's degree in health and human services administration from Lynn University in Florida, and a doctorate in health service organizations and research from the Medical College of Virginia-Virginia Commonwealth University.

He also earned an educational doctorate in higher education administration from the University of North Texas. In addition, he completed an American Council on Education post-doctorate fellowship at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

Porter's position will include assisting with implementation and management of the university's graduate programs, as well as working with outside entities to create and foster research opportunities for staff and students.

The university is one of the few nearby institutions to offer graduate programs to students in the Central Texas area.

"The graduate programs have historically done very well, particularly those in professional areas like business and education," Porter said.

He said the college hopes to expand its graduate programs and said many students are choosing to earn an advanced degree to help them advance within their professions.

"Many people recognize that in this economy, an advanced degree can really be an advantage," he said.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, about 10.3 percent of Americans held an advanced degree by 2009, just over three percentage points higher than in 1990. In Texas, 8.5 percent of the population held an advanced degree in 2009, compared to 6.5 percent in 1990.

The same data also showed that the mean earnings of those who held master's degrees tended to be higher than those with bachelor's degrees.

The 2009 census data showed the mean earning of someone with a master's degree at $73,738 annually, compared to $56,665 for someone with a bachelor's degree and $39,771 for someone with a two-year associate degree.

Currently, the university offers 22 graduate-degree programs to students, many of whom have earned their four-year degree at the school as well. For 2012, spring enrollment was 2,417 students, of whom 753 are graduate students.

Porter said the university wants to expand its graduate program offerings once it completes the process to earn its own separate accreditation from the Tarleton State University system.

"It's going to be very exciting, and we can't wait," he said. "One thing that's great about higher education is you take it with you for the rest of your life."

Contact Chris McGuinness at or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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