Olivet The Magazine | Doctoral Program Focuses on Success

“I enjoy building relationships with them. When one is going through a difficult time, we lift that person up in prayer.”
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LW Warfel

February 12, 2024 Academics, Olivet The Magazine

Lisa Carlton in classroom

Earning a doctoral degree is much different than earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Being a student in Olivet Nazarene University’s Doctor of Education in Ethical Leadership (Ed.D.) program is much different than being a doctoral student at other universities. Just ask Kelly Brown ’92, Ed.D., ONU’s Ed.D. program director.

“We help our learners meet their deadlines and be successful as they earn their degree,” Dr. Brown says. “In the process, we also get to know them and build relationships with them. And our concurrent dissertation process means they aren’t on their own to finish their dissertation. They are actually writing their dissertation while taking courses.”

Program Distinctives
That concurrent dissertation process is one of the most exciting distinctives of ONU’s program for Dr. Brown. She began advising learners in ONU’s Cohort 1 in 2008 and saw firsthand how this process encouraged learners’ confidence, motivation and success.

Today, she is the program director and occasionally serves as a dissertation team chair or reader. Last February ONU welcomed Cohort 32, one of the largest cohorts ever. These learners started their dissertation process in October and are now working with Dr. Brown to identify their specific dissertation topics and methodologies.

Despite the growth, another distinctive of ONU’s Ed.D. program is that learners receive personalized support throughout the dissertation process. Each learner is assigned a dissertation team that will remain with him or her until graduation.

“One of my privileges is to come alongside each learner while they are deciding on their dissertation topic and methodology,” Dr. Brown says. “We assign each learner a dissertation team with both content and methodology experience specific to that learner.”

ONU’s faculty also sets this program apart from programs at other universities.

“Our faculty members are, of course, experts in their field,” Dr. Brown says. “They are fully engaged and join learners on their Ed.D. journey. We often hear from our learners that our professors also truly care about our learners, want our learners to succeed and will do all they can to help.”

Program Quality
One of the beauties of ONU’s cohort model is bringing different people together to work toward a common goal. The relationships formed along the way often extend beyond graduation day. Dr. Brown continues to be pleased by the variety of learners who are enrolling in and completing the Ed.D. program. Learners represent a variety of professional backgrounds, including teachers, law enforcement officers, military officers, business leaders, healthcare professionals, pastors and more.

“Getting to know our learners is one of the best parts of this program for me,” Dr. Brown says. “I enjoy building relationships with them. When one is going through a difficult time, we lift that person up in prayer. When one is going through a blessing in life, we rejoice with that learner. Our cohorts often become like family. We help one another through life events.”

Self-doubt and frustration can also be part of the education process for learners in the program. The best guidance that Dr. Brown and the faculty give them during these times is to keep going, one step at a time. One chapter, one course, daily reading and writing toward each deadline is the way to go.

During this 32-month degree program, life happens to learners. They are encouraged to take care of themselves and their needs during times of personal challenges.

“We encourage our students to reach out to their professors, their dissertation team and me,” she says. “We will talk it through with them and come up with a plan. Our goal is to give them some relief so they can finish what they’ve started. We let them know that we
won’t lower our degree requirements for them, but we are certainly here to help them continue.”

Program Benefits
Every graduation day, Dr. Brown has the privilege of hooding graduates, hugging them and telling them congratulations.

“I’ve seen what they go through to get to that day,” she says. “Earning this degree changes them and sets them on a new course for their lives.”

Dr. Brown consistently receives calls and emails from employers who want to hire ONU graduates. This further underscores the excellent reputation of the program, which is known for being a rigorous, quality program that produces quality graduates.

“Earning the Ed.D. degree at ONU is worth the determination and hard work it takes,”
Dr. Brown says. “ONU provides learners with what they need and prays for them along the way. Learners have to make the commitment. We come alongside them and make the commitment to help them achieve their goal.”

From Olivet The Magazine, On Purpose – Winter 2024. Read the full issue HERE.

Laura Warfel headshot

LW Warfel

Laura Wasson Warfel is a story gatherer, writer, editor, and follower of Jesus Christ. A good listener, she distills details into meaningful communications. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, she launched More Than A Widow, a ministry to help widows live beyond the label and find their more.

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