Research excellence by winners Dr. Sandra Sessoms-Penny, Dr. Joy Taylor, Dr. Julie Ballaro, Dr. LaVonne Russell, Dr. Kevin Meade, and Dr. LeQawn McDowell in DEIB topics was honored at the Knowledge Without Boundaries Research Summit
The University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies announced the winners of the inaugural President’s Award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging in Research, Scholarship and Dissertation at its annual Knowledge Without Boundaries (KWB) Research Summit on October 13, 2023. All winners and nominees were recognized a presentation of the awards by University of Phoenix President Chris Lynne.
“Supporting diversity and building inclusivity have always been guiding tenets of University of Phoenix,” states Lynne. “We are pleased to establish this formal recognition of the meaningful practitioner-based research and scholarship being generated by individuals and teams across the university in various areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging as they impact both higher education and the workforce.”
The President’s Award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Research, Scholarship and Dissertation was developed to recognize excellence in practitioner-based DEIB research and scholarship happening throughout the University of Phoenix. Eligibility for the Research and Scholarship awards was open across the University, and the category of Dissertation was open to doctoral students who successfully defended their dissertation within the past year.
The winners are:
· Sandra Sessoms-Penny, Ed.D., and Joy Taylor, Ed.D., both senior research fellows in the Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion research (CWDIR), winner of President’s Award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging – Research, for their research "Examining the Value and Utilization of Earning an Online Degree for Women of Color."
· Julie M. Ballaro, DBA, LaVonne Russell, DM/IST, and R. Kevin Meade, DM, winner of President’s Award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging – Scholarship, for their article, “Future Leaders in Technology: Careers for Generation Z University Women,” published in the summer 2023 edition of the International Leadership Journal.
· LeQawn McDowell, DBA, winner of President’s Award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging – Dissertation, for his study, “The Underrepresentation of African Americans in Law Enforcement Organizations: An Explanatory Case Study.”
McDowell, a retired police sergeant who previously completed his bachelor’s degree with University of Phoenix as well, shared, “It’s an honor to have my dissertation selected, and all recognition for the work I poured into it. Policing can be a wonderful career; I loved interacting with the community and connecting with people. I wanted to do this research to shed light on the experiences and challenges faced by African Americans specifically at a point in time when we have real opportunity to impact such a critical service profession.”
The President’s Advisory Council on DEIB Research, Scholarship and Thought Leadership working group led by Kimberly Underwood, Ph.D., chair, Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research, and Devin Andrews, vice president, Admissions and Evaluation, championed establishing the award, accepted and reviewed nominations, and selected the winners. Three nominations were submitted in each category, and from that pool, the three winners were identified.
Following the presentation of the awards, the winners participated in a Summit fireside chat to discuss their research, findings, and opportunities. Learn more here about the KWB Summit.
About the College of Doctoral Studies
University of Phoenix’s College of Doctoral Studies focuses on today’s challenging business and organizational needs, from addressing critical social issues to developing solutions to accelerate community building and industry growth. The College’s research program is built around the Scholar, Practitioner, Leader Model which puts students in the center of the Doctoral Education Ecosystem® with experts, resources and tools to help prepare them to be a leader in their organization, industry and community. Through this program, students and researchers work with organizations to conduct research that can be applied in the workplace in real time.
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix innovates to help working adults enhance their careers and develop skills in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, skills-mapped curriculum for our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit phoenix.edu.