Students in Rollins College's new Executive Doctorate of Business Administration program.

The Managerial Edge

A new kind of doctoral degree is gaining popularity on college campuses—one that accommodates the real-world demands of time-crunched professionals.

by Rob Humphreys

Photo by Scott Cook

Last fall, at the age of 60, Paul Kegel ’16EDBA became one of 12 students in the inaugural class of Rollins’ Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (EDBA) program. Taking courses once a month on Fridays and Saturdays, EDBA students are paired with a full-time faculty advisor for the duration of the three-year program and complete a dissertation before graduating.

The concept is perfect for Kegel, a commercial design consultant who teaches a course called Innovative Work Environments at nearby Full Sail University.

“I’d been thinking about pursuing my doctorate,” he says, “but I wasn’t excited about what was out there. I didn’t want to do online courses, and my schedule wouldn’t allow for a traditional PhD program. So when I heard about Rollins’ new EDBA program, everything came together. It was perfect.”

Catering to MBA-level executives and industry leaders, the program focuses on research that can be directly applied to current business issues. For example, Kegel is examining the impact of workplace design on employee performance and engagement. At this point, he expects that his dissertation will analyze the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD), housed in a three-story building near UCF that supports 1,200 government and private-sector employees who “strengthen the war fighter through simulation.”

Kegel thought of the project after speaking with fellow Rollins EDBA student Capt. Wes Naylor ’16EDBA, commanding officer at the NAWCTSD.

“He heard about what I was interested in, and he started talking about how they wanted to improve the workplace to be as innovative as possible,” says Kegel, who likens the Navy’s Orlando operation to a sophisticated high-tech company that happens to be a government entity.

Kegel’s goal is to redesign the office environment to better encourage collaboration, creativity, communication, and innovation. As part of his dissertation, he’ll submit his recommendations to Naylor and the NAWCTSD brass.

“Paul is going to have the opportunity of applying his practical knowledge with what we’re teaching him in the way of theory development,” says Kegel’s advisor, Professor of Marketing Jule Gassenheimer.

“The EDBA program will help me take my business to a higher level, where I can combine my experience, design theory, and scientific research to create high-impact environments for my clients,” Kegel says.