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Successfully addressing the leadership gap: Anderson University meets the need with a new Ph.D. in Leadership
 

 

It’s not hyperbolic to say the future of organizations is at risk.

The cause? A lack of leadership.

Among those sounding the alarm, the Journal of Leadership Accountability and Ethics in 2018 illustrated the crossroads we face:

“Leadership development...is an urgent and challenging issue. Organizations globally are striving to identify and develop outstanding leaders who will be able to face the new challenges, embrace change, deal with crises, solve real-life problems and have an impact not only on their organizations, but on society at large.”

Anderson University has always educated future Christian leaders. The difference today is one of urgency—hence the logic behind Anderson University’s newest Ph.D. program. Last fall, the University launched a Doctorate of Philosophy in Leadership, a fully online program available to students focused on careers in business or Christian ministry.

Academics and researchers apparently aren’t alone in recognizing the dearth of leadership development programs in higher education. Students see it.

Case in point: last fall, 50 students entered the Ph.D. in Leadership program. It was an overwhelming response that defied expectations. They were evenly split between those enrolling in the College of Business and the College of Christian Studies, both of which offer concentrations specific to their fields.

Beyond the supply of, and demand for, leadership training in higher education, the program’s convenience and real-life applications are a draw for many students.

“It’s very practical and insightful,” said Dr. George Parks, a ministry leadership student and senior pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, a congregation with locations in North Little Rock and Conway, Arkansas.

Here’s how: Students in both concentrations take core classes in leadership that cover topics including organizational structure and culture, leadership strategies, team development and leadership philosophy.


Drs. Berry and Parks also say that the Ph.D. in Leadership program works well for the lives of busy pastors. It gives them space for reflection: of their own leadership, the needs of their congregation, and the perspective of their colleagues.

In the program concentrations, students take classes that address leadership issues in their respective fields. For example, business students take seminars on consulting skills so they can assess whether change is needed in individual positions, in teams of employees and throughout organizations, said Dr. Evie C. Maxey, associate dean of the College of Business and interim director of the program.

The payoff for students is immediate; most of those in the program already serve as leaders in their respective organizations, allowing them to apply immediately what they’re learning, Dr. Maxey and leadership students say.

Through their studies, students analyze existing organizational culture to see how it can be changed for the better, Dr. Maxey said. In business, students also study human resource management, technology issues—such as assessing and using applications to support remote workers—and management techniques to keep organizations nimble and adaptable in turbulent times, such as during a pandemic.

A central component of the program is scholarly research. In addition to enhancing leadership ability and skills, the de- gree program prepares and engages students in conducting reach in the leadership discipline to discover and contribute new information about the field.

The courses teach leadership for government, nonprofits, business and ministry from a Biblical perspective, Dr. Maxey said. The faculty for the business concentration includes existing College of Business faculty, such as Professor of Business Dr. Jeff Moore, as well as sought-after consultants Dr. Scott A. Quarto, the business department chair at Covenant College, and Dr. LeeAnn Brown, who has studied business leadership, management and development in China.

In addition to core leadership classes, ministry students study leadership in contemporary ministry settings and preaching as a leadership tool, said Dr. Michael Duduit, dean of the College of Christian Studies.

Ministry concentration student Dr. Parks says the program’s benefits are immediate. He said the program inspired him to ask more probing questions of himself and his leadership team at New Hope Baptist Church to help them grow in their leadership skills.

“These questions provide the supervising leader a window into the contributions and heart of those they lead and how they discern their strengths and evaluate their contributions,” Dr. Parks said. “Additionally, it assists leaders to...do the deep work of thinking about tasks as a calling and not simply as a paid profession.”

Dr. Emory Berry, Jr. is senior pastor at Greenforest Community Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia and an Anderson University Ph.D. in Leadership candidate. He is creating programs to promote leadership development within his 4,000-member congregation. He envisions intentional leadership components in programs for youths, teens, fraternities, sororities and summer camps. Dr. Berry said the program helped him think more deeply about the need for a leadership pipeline that not only trains future leaders in churches, but in the community at large.

Drs. Berry and Parks also say that the Ph.D. in Leadership program works well for the lives of busy pastors. It gives them space for reflection: of their own leadership, the needs of their congregation, and the perspective of their colleagues.

Needless to say, Dr. Berry said he highly recommends the program. It’s “what the doctor ordered,” he said.


For more information about the Anderson University Ph.D. in Leadership, contact Dr. Evie C. Maxey at emaxey@andersonuniversity.edu or visit AndersonUniversity.edu. For more information about the ministry concentration visit auministry.com.