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Advancing from the EdD in Kinesiology to Leadership in Higher Ed

November 02, 2020 by Mandy Byrd |

Laptop showing instructor leading diverse group of studentsGraduate uses skills learned in online EdD program to train and develop faculty.

For Sean Preuss, earning a doctorate was all about the skills.

When he started UNC Greensboro’s online EdD in Kinesiology program in 2015, he had just started working in faculty development and training at Bryan University, a private online university based in Tempe, Arizona. He was looking for a graduate program that would help him in his new role — helping teachers become better teachers.

“I wanted to develop skills that would make me really effective in higher education while also having a strong knowledge base of research. This program seemed like the best for that purpose — to learn how higher education works from many different perspectives,” Sean explains.

Sean says the robust EdD program taught him about different skills, such as:

  • how to develop a course, curriculum, and degree program
  • how to understand statistics and conduct research
  • understanding the faculty hiring process and other aspects of educational leadership

He also learned how to engage students during Online Pedagogy, which was one of his favorite courses.

“It really helped me understand the science of online learning as well as online student engagement,” he says.

Finding His Own Path

Although Sean has a master’s degree in Exercise and Wellness, he’s not limited to one discipline in his faculty development role. Seeing different aspects of higher education throughout the EdD program helped clarify his path. He says the program is a great fit for those who want to work and succeed in a university setting, whether they are interested in teaching kinesiology or educational leadership.

“I think most of the people going into the program are focused more on kinesiology, whereas for me it’s more about the higher education leadership and administration. Yet talking to my colleagues in the program, it seems like all of us accomplished what we wanted.”

A Close-Knit CommunitySean Preuss smiling

Sean enjoyed getting to know his online classmates. The group bonded during orientation and stayed in touch via text messages, phone calls, and Google Hangouts. They celebrated milestones together — kids, jobs, travel experiences — and learned from each other.

“There were several times I worked on projects with people from different fields that I have never worked in or didn’t know much about,” he says. “It was eye-opening for me to look at what kind of obstacles they face in their fields and what kind of competencies are important in their fields.”

Experienced, Responsive Faculty

When asked what he liked most about the EdD program, Sean does not hesitate.

“The faculty was the best part!”

While professors brought valuable experience to the courses, Sean also appreciated the effort they put into relationship building and communication in the online program — responding to messages, giving him timely feedback, and helping him feel connected. This became especially important when he hit a roadblock. 

About halfway through the program, Sean was feeling burned out with all the demands of work and graduate school. He needed a break, so he took two semesters off, cut his hours at work temporarily, and traveled a little — and soon realized that he missed being a student.

“It was clear to me that while I was in the leave of absence that I loved the program and I wanted to get back,” he says. “I saw the tangible benefits in my life and my career from going through the program.”

With support from the faculty, Sean was able to persevere, and he re-entered the program the next fall.

New Skills, New Opportunities

Sean graduated in August and says the program had a dramatic impact on his career. He was promoted to Academic Success Manager last year and oversees the online training of 85 faculty members. He trains new faculty on effective teaching practices, the technology, and the company culture. He helps experienced faculty sharpen their teaching skills and develop research-based practices that help students learn. He also oversees the librarians and tutoring staff.

Sean says the skills he’s gained from the EdD program have boosted his confidence and made him more effective in all his roles.

“I went from being new to faculty development, to now I manage the department,” he explains. “It has given me a lot of opportunities that I would not otherwise have.”

Find Your Way Here

Want to learn more about the online EdD in Kinesiology program? Just fill out the form to download a free brochure.

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