Executive Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership

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Alumni Stories

Sandra Gross, EdD 2018
Dean of International Programs and Intercultural Education
Universidad Internacional del Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador
University of Miami Doctoral Dissertation: The Underrepresentation of Women Studying Engineering: A Grounded Theory Case Study

Sandra parlayed rich intercultural experiences as writer, editor, teacher, and master’s graduate of the London School of Economics into a career in higher education leadership, beginning with work as assistant director and then director of the Institute of Languages at the Universidad Internacional del Ecuador, and culminating in earning the EdD and founding the Office of International Programs and Intercultural Education at Universidad Internacional. As dean, she oversees foreign language learning for more than 1,000 diverse students per semester, programs and resources for students and faculty, strategic alliances, and networking.

Juan Carlos Morales, EdD 2018
Director of Advanced Placement (AP) Higher Education Outreach, The College Board
University of Miami Doctoral Dissertation: Defying the Statistics: Latinx Students’ Journeys from ESL to the Honors College at the Community College

Juan Carlos began his education career in a post-baccalaureate fellowship teaching English as a Second Language at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, and later directed curriculum for AP World Languages and Cultures at the College Board. He was for many years a world language teacher in Miami-Dade County Public Schools and then supervisor of world languages and international education for the state of Delaware. While earning his EdD, Juan Carlos was chair of world languages at Miami Dade College’s InterAmerican Campus. He now directs outreach and evaluation for the College Board’s AP Higher Education unit.

Justine Green, EdD 2019
Principal, Tamim Academy of Boca Raton, Florida
University of Miami Doctoral Dissertation: Effects of Institutional Factors on College Students’ Self-Disclosure of Disability Status and Their Utilization of Disability Services

Justine’s belief in education that builds feelings of worth and self-efficacy in children who may look and feel different from others is rooted in her own victory over a hearing disability. Her experience includes a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education from UM, a master’s in education policy and social analysis from Teachers College, Columbia University, and work as an inclusive classroom teacher at Temple Beth Am Day School in Miami and director of development at Torah Tots Early Childhood Center. While earning her EdD, Justine was a learning specialist in UM’s Office of Disability Services. Her children’s book Completely Me, based on her own life, is a call to understanding and acceptance of those who are different.

UM News wrote about Justine upon the publication of her children’s book, Completely Me, in which she shares her story of living with a disability.

UM study reveals economic benefits of DACA for society

Following the Trump Administration decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and its education and employment opportunities for more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants, a University of Miami graduate student launched a singular new studyof how DACA has affected the U.S. economy.

The upshot: Study findings indicated that undocumented immigrants with college degrees have contributed significantly to tax revenue generation in their states of residence, and states in particular that allowed these students to pay in-state tuition have seen higher increases in college enrollments and vehicle ownership than states without such a policy. This study has particular relevance now as the Supreme Court upheld DACA on June 18, 2020, ruling that the government had not given adequate reasoning for ending it. 

“The implications go beyond the economic benefits,” said Vanesa Lougheed, whose dissertation, “The Economic Effects of DACA and State Policy on Undocumented Students and Society,” earned her a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership in May 2019 in UM’s School of Education & Human Development. 

“Research is crucial for providing empirical information to state and federal policymakers, especially today, when emotions seem to hinder fact-based approaches to problems.” 

Lougheed used aggregated data across five years from the U.S. Census Bureau and National Center for Education Statistics to examine two research questions: 1) Does DACA policy affect states’ rate of return on investment as measured by tax revenues compared against initial state investments, from pre-DACA implementation to post-DACA? and 2) Are there state-level factors that explain differences in states’ rate of return on investment over time? A series of mixed-effects models was used to answer the questions.  

President Obama signed DACA into effect in 2012 as a policy that provided limited protections to immigrants brought to live in the United States by their parents at a tender age, but that did not address access to higher education. States have since decided whether DACA recipients can attend public colleges and universities at a reduced, in-state tuition cost. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia offered in-state tuition to unauthorized immigrant students by state legislative action (Florida was one), and five states did so via state university systems, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. These laws typically require graduation from state high schools, acceptance at a state college or university, and the promise to apply for legal status as soon as eligible.

The Trump Administration move to end DACA was met by court challenges, and its cancellation was put on hold by court order. In November 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the government’s arguments for ending DACA, and justices asked about the potential negative effects. For example, Justice Stephen Breyer mentioned health care, labor, and education organizations as well as the military that depend on DACA recipients, according to CNN. In March 2020, a group of “Dreamers” sent a letter asking the Supreme Court to consider the fact that approximately 27,000 Dreamers are health care providers, many on the front lines fighting the coronavirus pandemic. On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration in a 5-4 decision that protected DACA, saying the government had failed to provide adequate justification for ending the federal program.

In summer 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives had passed the newest version of the so-called Dream Act, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which would have granted the Dreamers 10 years of legal residence status if they met certain requirements, according to The Washington Post. However, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate never took up the bill.  

“This topic is very personal to me as my family emigrated to the United States from Nicaragua. I am fortunate to have been born in the United States and not endured the same hardships that undocumented face regarding higher education,” noted Lougheed, who is Associate Controller at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.

“I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to do the Executive Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership at the University of Miami, where I was encouraged to research undocumented immigrants. I intend to continue to work with the undocumented community as it relates to furthering education.”

Said Carol-Anne Phekoo, Ph.D., co-chair of Lougheed’s dissertation committee and director of the Executive Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership: “Vanesa’s research under the direction of Dr. Soyeon Ahn, who is chair of the Educational & Psychological Studies department, was complex and painstaking work. We’re proud of her, as we are of all students who strive to achieve understanding that benefits people and society.”


Focus on Timeliness & Support

Your dissertation allows you to combine theory and research, academics, and personal experience to address a question or issue at your institution or in the higher education workplace that interests you. 

Our program is based in thoughtful applications of knowledge and skills to problem solving, and we help launch that effort early on via a dissertation proposal seminar and personal advising. We keep the program small to allow for this intensity; we also do not typically admit a new cohort every year.

Once courses and doctoral qualifying exams are completed, you’ll engage in intensive dissertation writing workshops one weekend per month with close faculty guidance. They help you focus on your work, organize to meet objectives, and engage with fellow students in your Ed.D. cohort for advice and support.