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University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies announces 2022 Dissertation of the Year Winners

By Sharla Hooper

Recipients of the award are recognized for their excellence in dissertation work

University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies is pleased to announce the winners of the College’s Dissertation of the Year Award for 2022, an award program recognizing excellence in dissertation work among doctoral students, with one award granted in each of the Management, Education, Health Administration, and Nursing fields of study. This year’s winners are Sai Raghav, DM; Lyn Shela Heck,Ph.D./HEA.; Lee Ann Wright Smith, DHA; and Frank Druse, Ph.D. Nursing.

“Our doctoral students are committed both as practitioners in their respective fields and as scholars in their programs. The College puts them at the center of an ecosystem of experienced faculty and resources to support their dissertation work,” states Hinrich Eylers, Ph.D., P.E., vice provost, College of Doctoral Studies. “Their dissertation is a central element of their learning, growth and achievement in their programs, and this award provides a formal recognition to those who displayed excellence in their dissertation work.”

Doctoral students’ original and valued dissertation research serves as the foundation for their field of interest. The College of Doctoral Studies provides resources designed to support and help students succeed from an introductory doctoral course sequence through all the steps to completing and disseminating their dissertations.

Doctoral students who have passed their dissertation defense within the previous year and were nominated by their chairs or committees were considered for this award. A double-blind peer-reviewed process was used to evaluate the nominations. Each nomination was reviewed by at least two reviewers. In the case of a tie score, a third reviewer evaluated the nominated dissertation.

The winners each authored the following dissertations:

  • Sai Raghav, DM: “Coaching-Style Leadership’s Role In The Change Management Process In Mechanistically Structured Organizations: A Narrative Inquiry Study”
  • Lyn Shela Heck, Ph.D./HEA: “Experiences Managing Change In Postsecondary Theatre Arts Curricula: A Narrative Inquiry Study In Leadership”
  • Lee Ann Wright Smith, DHA: “A Qualitative Multi-Case Study Of Nurses’ Perceptions And Experiences With Point Of Use Supply Automation”
  • Frank Druse, Ph.D. Nursing: “The Lived Experiences Of New Graduate Nurses During The Covid-19 Pandemic: A Phenomenological Study.”

"As the first in my family to accomplish an associate’s degree, I never imagined 17 years ago the journey that my continuing graduate education and the profession of nursing have provided me,” states Druse. “While achieving my Ph.D. in Nursing was an enormous milestone, this award has solidified my confidence and commitment to support the advancement of the profession of Nursing. This honor and degree demonstrate that I can do whatever I set my mind to. As I continue to remain committed to the profession of nursing by supporting nursing education, scholarship, mentoring, and evidence-based practice, my life's mission is to be an integral force in the most trusted profession that, like a Phoenix, has the ability to rise from the ashes."

Awardees are invited to present their research at the annual College of Doctoral Studies’ Knowledge Without Boundaries Research Summit, October 12-14, where they will also be recognized. The Summit is open to public attendees and registration is available here.

Awardees receive a certificate commemorating their recognition.

University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies published the details and dissertations authored by the winners here.

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 puts students in the center of an effective ecosystem of 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 is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, and Career Services for Life® help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit