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First Education in Leadership Studies Ed.D.s graduate from LSU Shreveport

May 15, 2017

Shreveport, LA-  Three students from the inaugural class of LSUS’ Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies Program received their diplomas on Sunday, signaling growth within the Shreveport Bossier Community. 

After approximately 20 years of attempting to bring a doctoral program to LSUS, Dr. Julie Bergeron (now retired), Dr. Larry Garrison (now deceased), and Dr. Ruth Jackson (former Education Department Chair) took the lead to bring the program closer to fruition. Many community members, community organizations, and students were consulted to determine the needs of the area regarding leadership and a solid proposal was submitted to the Board of Regents. The Leadership Studies Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) program was awarded final approval in June 2014 after a successful April site visit from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accrediting board.

Of the more than 200 initial inquiries, 22 students were accepted for the inaugural cohort. Professional backgrounds represented by those 22 doctoral students were health care (5); higher education (6); school administration (4); non-profit organizations (3); classroom teachers (2); and school board central office personnel (2). Of that initial number, 13 students remain in Cohort 1. Three of those 13 made history on April 17, 2017, by successfully defending their dissertations on the 3rd floor of the Noel Memorial Library.

“The Ed.D. degree focuses on enhancing leadership potential that will support personal and community growth in various endeavors,” said Dr. Iris D. Johnson, Director of the Leadership Studies Ed.D. Program. “It is extremely rewarding to see these three students, who have worked so hard over the course of their studies, represent the beginning of such a wonderful program.”

The first graduates of the program were each from higher education professional careers: Gayle Flowers, Vice Chancellor for Economic & Workforce Development at Bossier Parish Community College; Joslin Mar-Dai Pickens, Chair of the Music, Arts, Communication, and General Studies Department at Southern University at Shreveport; and Kimberly Lynne Wright, a former English instructor at Southern University Shreveport and Coordinator of Student Services at Blue Cliff College.

The research studies completed by these women involved leadership of principals of career-technical high schools and cross-sector partnerships with businesses, leadership of faculty senate presidents during the financial crisis in Louisiana, and leadership of senior student affairs administrators while making sense of campus racial crises.

Committee members for the dissertation committees were LSUS faculty: Dr. Emmanuel Clottey, Dr. Kenna Franklin, Dr. Kevin Jones, Dr. Helen Taylor, Dr. Barzanna White and external content-specialty members: Dr. Belinda McCharen Cole of Cole Consulting, LLC, formerly of Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK; Dr. Krystal Hinerman, of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Additional support was provided by the remaining Leadership Studies faculty: Dr. Michael Chikeleze and Dr. Melissa Hawthorne. The chair of the three committees was Dr. Iris DeLoach Johnson.

 “We are very pleased to see the positive impact that this program is having on our students and the community,” said LSUS Chancellor Larry Clark.  “It is wonderful to recognize this milestone event for both the first graduates and the university.  These students have the unique honor of leading the way for those who will follow in their footsteps as future doctorate degree recipients at LSUS. ”  The Leadership Studies program is especially appreciative of support from many LSUS administrators, faculty, and staff, and particularly funding received from the Noel Foundation and the Provost’s Office. 



Photo: L-R: Gayle Flowers; LSU Board of Supervisors Member Valencia Sarpy Jones,  Kimberly Wright,  Joslin Pickens, Chancellor Larry Clark

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