SNU Awards Doctoral Degrees to its First-Ever EdD Graduates

First DEAL Graduates standing in Regalia

Last weekend, Southern Nazarene University awarded doctoral degrees to the University’s first cohort of the EdD in Administration and Leadership program. Fifteen graduates received their diplomas at the December 4, 2021 graduation ceremony in Bethany, Oklahoma.

“What a journey!” said Program Director Dr. Stephoni Case. “That word emerged over and over throughout the program of study for these graduates. At every point along the way, they worked hard, made adjustments, asked wonderful questions, and took care of each other.”

In less than 32 months, the Doctor of Education program prepares students to become expert leaders in their organizations and inspire meaningful change—in educational institutions, private companies, nonprofits and others. The coursework is offered entirely online or in-person.

“The embedded dissertation is what initially drew me to the program, but the relationships that I built with the people in my cohort are what kept me going,” Dr. Cheri McKinney said, who completed the program along with her husband, Giovanni.

SNU’s embedded dissertation process allows students to begin chipping away at their dissertation from day one of the program—performing research and their coursework simultaneously. Many courses have dissertation components built in, helping students to maintain a steady pace as they work toward graduation.

Dr. Robbyn Glinsmann echoed McKinney, saying, “The embedded dissertation was most significant because I was supported the entire way. I honestly think it made my study stronger because I was challenged to do more, ask better questions, and utilize the most current research.”

Thanks to the program’s ability to be tailored to each student’s career and passions, the dissertation topics ranged widely among the cohort—from authentic leadership, to resiliency among women in educational leadership, and even topics like the effects of employee email phishing behaviors.

Reflecting on what the future holds with his doctorate in-hand, Dr. Russell Bart Ermeling said, “I want to help others learn and to accomplish something that changes their lives forever. The two things I enjoy most in life outside of my family are taking care of soldiers and teaching. I plan to do both.”

For the entire cohort, the support they received from each other was critical to their success.

“We spent almost three years together, we got really close, we shared numerous life-altering events. There were career changes, weddings, births, deaths, injuries, illness, and a pandemic. We all made it through because of each other,” Ermeling continued.

Students of the doctoral program are also met with full support from SNU’s seasoned faculty members. Each student is assigned a Dissertation Director, a Dissertation Chairperson and a Dissertation Editor—resourcing them with the expertise and mentorship they need to excel.

Dr. Shawna Richardson, Dissertation Director, said, “Serving in this role has been the highlight of my career and my dream position. I have greatly enjoyed working with the team to guide the first group of doctoral students through the dissertation process and doctoral journey at SNU.”

For graduate Dr. Amara Detrick, the feeling is mutual: “If it weren’t for Dr. Richardson, my cohort and my family, I would’ve floundered. These people met me at every success and struggle. The encouragement and shared knowledge will serve me throughout the remainder of my career!”

The next cohort will begin February 4, 2022. The application deadline is January 18, 2022. Click here to learn more about the program.

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