HPU’s First Doctoral Candidate Defends Dissertation

HIGH POINT, N.C., Dec. 18, 2015 – Kristen Ring made history on Dec. 15 when she became the first person to defend a doctoral dissertation at High Point University.

She and her classmates in the educational leadership program have made history before in fall 2012 when they became part of HPU’s first-ever doctoral degree program. Becoming a doctoral degree granting institution was a major milestone in the university’s transformation and investment in academics throughout the last 10 years.

Dr. Linda Sekhon, founding chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at HPU, asks Ring questions about her dissertation

Dr. Linda Sekhon, founding chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at HPU, asks Ring questions about her dissertation

These first students will go on to make history yet again in May when they cross the Commencement stage and receive the first doctoral degrees granted by the university. They’ll also use their education to tackle the challenges they’ve already experienced as school principals, administrators and educators locally and across the region. Cohort members represent local school districts including Guilford County Schools, Forsyth County Schools and Davidson County Schools, as well as school districts from across the Southeast region.

Housed in the School of Education, the program prepares leaders to provide solutions and positive outcomes in today’s complex and ever-changing education. Students complete 60 credit hours in three to four years, which gives flexibility to these students who are already juggling full-time jobs.

“I am very humbled, honored and grateful to the faculty who have invested so much time into me and my fellow doctoral students,” said Ring. “The faculty invested in us and told us that we could do it even though there would be bumps along the way. There is no doubt that from day one I knew this was where I wanted to be, and I am very proud.”

Ring’s dissertation, titled “Developing Independent School Leaders in Transition: Matching Leader Skill Development with Organizational Need,” discusses how leaders of independent schools have a need for a mentor during the early stages of their transition to a new school. Ring’s study was over a 16 month period where she worked with a head of school and division head (principal) of schools in Alabama.

Doctoral Defense 3

Ring defends her dissertation to HPU faculty.

“It has been a wonderful journey for Kristen as well our other students who are still continuing on their journey,” said Dr. Barbara Mallory, educational doctorate program coordinator. “When I first met Kristen, she was a curious aspiring leader and I have been able to see her transform into the leader that she is today; it is truly amazing. That is what our program is about. We want to bring out the leader and the leadership qualities within. For her to be able to influence the practice as well as her own development is amazing.”

“This is a big success and triumph for High Point University and the School of Education,” said Dr. Donald Martin, who chaired the university doctoral committee for Ring. “For this program it is extremely meaningful to have our first doctoral candidate who has successfully defended her dissertation. Her dissertation was a wonderful application of the real world with real work, real barriers and real problems that she overcame.”

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