Skip to Main Content Skip to bottom Skip to Chat, Email, Text

University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies celebrates growth and contributions of Fellow-in-Residence program for scholars in the Research Centers

By Sharla Hooper

Fellows program provides opportunities to enhance scholarly experience and contribute expertise and insights to workforce issues 

University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies celebrates its 50 fellows as part of its four years long Fellows-in-Residence initiative to enhance and grow scholarly activities in workforce issues research and contributions through its Research Centers. The College of Doctoral Studies Fellows-in-Residence Program offers fellow placements in one of three research centers: Center for Leadership Studies and Organizational Research (CLSOR), chaired by Rodney Luster, Ph.D., LPC; Center for Educational and Instructional Technology Research (CEITR), chaired by Mansureh Kebritchi, Ph.D.; and Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research (CWDIR), chaired by Kimberly Underwood, Ph.D., MBA.

“Our fellow-in-residence program is focused on integrating practitioner scholars into a practitioner and research community to support the advancement of studies by each Center through individual opportunities for publication," states Hinrich Eylers, Ph.D., vice provost, College of Doctoral Studies. “Our fellows are able to leverage their knowledge and experience from their chosen professions within a respected network of practitioners and scholars contributing to the knowledge base and influencing decisions in education and the workplace.”

A College alumna and CEITR Fellow, Danielle Kearns-Sixsmith, Ed.D., comes from a lengthy career teaching STEM in K-12 education. She has published numerous white papers including on findings from the Career Optimism Index® study and has engaged with several institutional research projects as well as STEM for K-12 projects. Now an assistant professor at DeSales University, Kearns-Sixsmith shares that she encountered excellent instructors and researchers during her doctorate work and was inspired by the experience of other researchers in CEITR: “What impressed me was that in everything I did, every year I participated on collaborative research teams, I was met right where I was on my journey, with a cohort of other lifelong learners willing to share what they knew and grow in areas that they wanted.”

In becoming a Fellow at CEITR, Kearns-Sixsmith felt honored to continue her journey and support others as she had been supported. Serving as a fellow, she has contributed to products and continued to grow her research expertise: “The opportunity to explore different areas of interest, participate in each step from idea to product, helped strengthen my knowledge base and build my efficacy.”

University of Phoenix serves a diverse student body and operates from a deep understanding that 79.8% of its students are working adults seeking to enhance their careers through education. The College has an even higher percentage of working adults, with 96% employed while enrolled. “As a College dedicated to the Scholar-Practitioner-Leader model, our fellows bring a wealth of industry experience to their research projects and the scholarly enterprise of our research centers,” states Dr. Luster. “They are valuable members of our community where we foster personal research growth as well as contributions to better industry and workforce understanding and efficiencies.”

ACCESS (Advancing Community, Critical thought, Engagement, Scholarship Success) is an introductory course sequence for the Colleges’ doctoral students. As an ACCESS Doctoral Area Chair in the College, Marlene N. Blake, Ph.D., brings a 20-year career in online higher education focused on faculty training, development, mentoring, and holistic support to her Fellow position in CWDIR, where she found opportunities to be part of a research community. “The fellows program appealed to me in providing meaningful motivation to pursue my passion for research,” she states. “The program offers opportunities to collaborate, connect, and network with other researchers, and allows me to showcase the Scholar, Practitioner, and Leader (SPL) model in action.”

Blake’s activities and research as a Fellow resulted in five conference presentations in 2023, and more recently the development of a white paper as well as enhancing planned student support sessions.

Fellows may also engage as mentors in the College’s Alumni Mentor Program, designed to connect current doctoral students with College alumni and which has grown exponentially in the last year. Currently, seven fellows also serve as mentors.

Within the University of Phoenix Research Centers led by professional researchers and industry experts with long-standing careers in both academia and industries, fellows are part of an affiliate base of researchers conducting studies and serving on various goal-specific projects. This enterprise offers practical, problem-solving-focused services for organizations and companies seeking to better understand workplace challenges, needs and trends in the areas of leadership, workplace inclusion and diversity, and technology. Services include bespoke research, professional development and industry white papers.

Faculty at College of Doctoral Studies offer both academic credentials and industry experience to the students they serve, with an average of 27.7 years of professional experience and 12.2 years of teaching experience with University of Phoenix. Professional experience of College faculty include that of chief executives, presidents, consultants, executive directors, and principals.

Operating from the Scholar, Practitioner, Leader Model, the College centers students within the Doctoral Education Ecosystem® with experts, resources and tools to help prepare them to be a leader in their organization, industry and community. In addition to the Doctoral Education Ecosystem®, doctoral students have access to the same 24/7 support channels as students across colleges and programs by University of Phoenix. The University's Phoebe® chatbot,, along with the Life Resource Center and the Virtual Student Union, offers always-on assistance, resources, and engagement opportunities that cater to students' diverse needs and schedules.  

Learn more here about the Research Centers and College of Doctoral Studies community.

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