news-category: Graduate programs

Gardner-Webb Doctoral Students Receive Inspiration from Team of Deans and Professors

Hosted by the Gayle Bolt Price School of Graduate Studies, Retreat Offers Additional Resources and Support   

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.— The final doctoral project journey is challenging, particularly after completing coursework. The Gayle Bolt Price School of Graduate Studies recently held its first doctoral project/dissertation retreat to support Gardner-Webb University students in this last phase of their program. Attending were 50 students from all doctoral programs (DBA, DNP, DMin, and EdD). The event, also sponsored by Dover Library and Graduate Admissions, was held at the GWU Charlotte Center.

Knowing how complex the process can be, leadership from all doctoral programs and the Dover Library created this motivational opportunity for students. “Doctoral candidates can feel isolated and adrift without regular class meetings with other students and faculty,” observed Dean of the Gayle Bolt Price School of Graduate Studies, Dr. Sydney Brown. “At this point in the process, students must craft their plans for action to progress in their work. They are working on writing a book-length academic research document, something that most have never attempted. At the same time, most doctoral students in Gardner-Webb programs are full-time professionals in leadership roles in businesses, school districts, healthcare facilities, and churches.” 

Session topics and presenters were determined based on a student needs survey conducted in the spring and the expertise from a collaborative work group led by Brown. This team included the Dean for the Dover Library, Dr. Natalie Bishop; Associate Dean of the Godbold College of Business, Dr. Christi Sutton; Chair of Doctoral Nursing Programs in the Hunt School of Nursing, Dr. Tina Lewis; Executive Director of the Doctor of Ministry in the School of Divinity, Dr. Ben Leslie; and Associate Dean of the College of Education, Dr. Jennifer Putnam.

The day began with a welcome from GWU President Dr. William M. Downs, and a joint session supporting students in various general and discipline-specific resources provided by the GWU Library. Doctoral program coordinators presented sessions for students in their areas, and attendees were also able to choose from available sessions related to scholarly writing, quantitative and qualitative methods, survey design and analysis, developing a conceptual framework, preparing a review of the literature, and completing a successful application for research involving human subjects. The students received a resource folder with all of the presentations so they could refer back to the information provided. After the workshop day, the Charlotte campus was open for students to have a quiet space for writing over the weekend.

In addition to the planning committee members who also presented, other faculty and staff involved included: Writing Center Director Dr. Hannah Mayfield, College of Education Quality Assurance Coordinator Dr. Mitch Porter, Director of Institutional Assessment Dr. Lucas Stern, and Associate Professor in the College of Education Dr. Jessica Van Cleave.

The presenters received positive feedback from the students and suggestions for future retreats. One student stated, “I feel motivated, encouraged and ready to focus on completing the proposal phase and beyond.” Another commented, “The best part was every presenter sending the clear message that this process is doable.”

For more information about GWU’s graduate programs, visit the Gayle Bolt Price School of Graduate Studies.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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