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TCU Graduates First Ph.D. in Higher Education

Ben Moss earned the first Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership from TCU in May. In February Moss successfully defended his dissertation, which examined actions and beliefs required for higher education leadership in Peru.

TCU added the Ph.D. track to its existing Higher Education program to provide students with a more research-intensive option. Both the Ph.D. and Ed.D. tracks to prepare students for administrative and faculty roles in higher education and the flexibility to take electives in other subjects.

“I knew TCU had such a great program. It’s set up so that you’re working toward your dissertation all along,” he said. “I love the ability to see the way that an idea becomes a dissertation.”

He combined his love for teaching and Spanish, sparked from mission trips to Honduras, into the basis for his dissertation study, which was completed entirely in Spanish. He made three trips over eight months to complete his survey of leaders and students at a university in Cusco, Peru to find out what actions and beliefs create a successful campus culture.

“I assumed there would be congruency with what leaders believe and what they actually do,” he said. “The culture places many restrictions on leaders’ ability to move forward.”

Moss found that factors such as racism, nepotism and politicized environments led to a mismatch between leaders’ aspirations and actions, and his study suggested opportunities for educational reforms. He completed a survey of a population of student leaders at TCU to complete a comparative analysis and wants to ultimately start a university in Central America. He said TCU faculty, staff and students have encouraged that dream.

“One of the things I appreciate about TCU is that if you have a big dream, faculty, staff and peers ask how they can get behind you to make that a possibility,” he said.