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Academic history: First DBA students successfully defend dissertations

Earning a doctorate is frequently described as a journey—one that has at its end a final pinnacle, the dissertation, to be scaled. The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater College of Business and Economics is proud to share that two of its doctoral candidates have conquered their dissertations and reached the end of their Doctorate of Business Administration journeys.

On May 23, 2017, Stephen Gray successfully defended his doctoral dissertation, “Credit Decisions and the Effects of Earnings Quality,” and Brian Huels defended his dissertation, “Antecedents to Taxpayer Compliance: Essays exploring the influence of personality and culture,” on June 13. They each satisfied the requirements of their respective committees and earned their doctorate titles.

Their personal achievements also signify a major milestone for the university. Just over five years ago, in May 2012, Professor of Management Praveen Parboteeah made a serious proposal to begin a DBA program at the UW-Whitewater College of Business and Economics. Leadership at the college and university were very supportive, helping to propel the final proposal forward and navigate the University of Wisconsin System process. Meanwhile, a DBA committee—including Associate Dean Paul Ambrose, Associate Professor Pavan Chennamaneni, Assistant Professor Balaji Sankaranarayanan, Assistant Dean Robert Schramm, and Professor Linda Yu-—and many other dedicated faculty members, developed a strong, doctorate-level curriculum. The program proposal was approved by the Board of Regents in the summer of 2013 and the premiere cohort kicked off in September 2014.

As Dean John Chenoweth expressed before Steve Gray’s presentation, “This accomplishment showcases the ability of the college and university to be innovative, to move rapidly when needed, and most importantly, to do that while delivering quality.”

The DBA was designed to be a practitioner-oriented terminal degree with a strong focus on how to strategically solve real-world problems. UW-Whitewater developed a curriculum that integrates business knowledge across functional breadth areas such as management, accounting, finance, marketing and information technology.

The 60-credit program is intended to be completed in three years. Students attend classes one weekend each month for two years, followed by one year of dissertation work. This schedule helps accommodate professionals who cannot press pause on their careers.

Looking back on the program’s challenges and triumphs, DBA Program Director K. Praveen Parboteeah shared, “We faced skeptics who did not believe we had the ability to deliver a quality program. But with the help of university leadership, the DBA committee, and the 30 or so faculty who have taught courses, mentored students, and guided students as members of their dissertation committees, we have collectively ‘done it!’”

Dean Chenoweth put the milestone in a broader context, saying, “Our doctoral students are all engaged in professional communities, either in their respective industries or academia. We’ve taken a cohort through a process designed to train them and advance their research skills. Throughout that process—not just at the end—they’ve gained knowledge and skills to help advance the regional economy. And as they complete the program, it allows our university, as well as the communities they rejoin, to move forward.”

Everyone associated with UW-Whitewater wholeheartedly congratulates Dr. Stephen Gray, DBA and Dr. Brian Huels, DBA on completing their doctoral journeys, and looks forward to additional cohort members attaining their degrees over the summer.

Steve shared his feelings about completing the program, saying, “There is a great sense of satisfaction in accomplishing something like this, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to push myself to new levels. It’s prepared me to look forward to what’s next with confidence. Having completed an MBA and now a DBA, I know that I can take what I’ve learned and do something even greater.”

He added, “Before starting the DBA program, I made the choice to invest in myself. I have no regrets about that decision. Other investments can lose value, but no one can take this away from me.”

Brian offered his reflections, saying, “When I started the program, I was looking at it like a ‘start and stop’ endeavor. But what I found is that the DBA isn’t a ‘start and stop’ program. It really just laid the foundation for me to see that there’s so much more out there I can do. The reality is that you’re always learning. The degree is done, but there’s always more.”

In terms of what was next, he added, “I’d thought that I’d complete the program, get the degree, and someday down the road it might open doors for me. But it’s been exciting to see how quickly those doors opened up.”

The program has now successfully concluded recruitment of its fourth cohort, which will start in Fall 2017. Applications for the Fall 2018 DBA cohort will be accepted starting September 1, 2017, and rolling admissions decisions will be made starting November 1, 2017. The final application deadline is January 30, 2018. Learn more

Doctor of Business Administration program director Praveen Parboteeah, right, gives a "thumbs up" to Stephen Gray immediately following Gray's dissertation defense. (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)

Doctor of Business Administration program director Praveen Parboteeah, right, gives a “thumbs up” to Stephen Gray immediately following Gray’s dissertation defense. (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)

Brian Huels, left, walks across campus with fellow cohort member Stephen Gray and Stephen's wife, Geralyn. Stephen and Brian were the very first doctoral candidates to complete the DBA program. (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)

Brian Huels, left, walks across campus with fellow cohort member Stephen Gray and Stephen’s wife, Geralyn. Stephen and Brian were the very first doctoral candidates to complete the DBA program. (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)

Members from Cohort 1 gather outside Timothy J. Hyland Hall after class. (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)

Members of the Fall 2014 Cohort gather outside Timothy J. Hyland Hall. The DBA program’s cohort model provides an important source of support for students. (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)

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