Benedictine University’s Ph.D. in Organization Development prepares professionals to address challenges

July 10, 2015

Lisle, Illinois ~ Increased government regulation. Taxes and competition. A never-ending quest to find the best talent. The need to implement change in corporate thinking to boost creativity and positively affect the bottom line.

High-level managers, consultants, HR executives and leaders in general need to effectively address these challenges and more to succeed in a rapidly changing business climate where technological advances, fluctuating economies and globalization influence the rise and fall of businesses more quickly than ever. Even more importantly, they need to understand and implement organizational change successfully.

They need to be ahead of the change and understand how to identify patterns, collect, analyze and capitalize on big data, expand to new customer bases, leverage the newest social media platforms and integrated marketing strategies, and retain employees by creating a workplace culture that addresses their needs for professional development and work-life balance. Most of all, they need to anticipate and implement these strategies before problems arise.

“The business climate is constantly changing and the companies that survive are the ones that can change with it,” said Peter Sorensen, Ph.D., a leader and founder of the internationally respected and award-winning Ph.D. in Organization Development (OD) programs at Benedictine University. “These companies are guided by professionals who can effectively lead, manage and organize.”

Sorensen and Therese Yaeger, Ph.D., an acknowledged leader in corporate organization dynamics, are internationally known scholars in the field and have prepared executives and senior leaders to identify and apply OD strategies to solve organizational problems in a way that simply isn’t taught in other disciplines.

“We provide leaders in every field and from across the globe with the knowledge, incentive and tools for making things better in the workplace and in their organizations,” Yaeger said. “They learn how to manage and implement change, increase productivity and create an environment where people work together toward better solutions.”

Graduates of the program have become successful leaders and change agents at global organizations such as CNN Worldwide, Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Abbott Laboratories, Kraft Food Groups Inc., Motorola, McDonald’s Corp., and other Fortune 500 organizations such as Boeing Co., General Electric Co. and General Motors Co.

Mike Mantel, president and CEO of Living Water International based in Houston, Texas, came to Benedictine in 1998 in search of new strategies and techniques for achieving sustained positive change while at the large Christian humanitarian agency World Vision.

Today, he continues to put the leadership skills he learned at Benedictine to work by providing concrete solutions to a monumental social problem – the absence of safe drinking water for nearly 750 million people around the world.

In 2010, Living Water International staff and volunteers used Benedictine’s intellectual resources to develop a five-year strategy that doubled the organization’s growth and impact. Currently, the organization is completing a 25-year vision and 5-year strategic plan.

“The Ph.D. in Organization Development program continues to underpin our efforts,” Mantel said. “I love being able to work with highly engaged change agents who are saving and changing the lives of millions of thirsty people – those who lack water in the Americas, Africa and India – and those who invest their minds, networks and resources to make a difference here in the United States and around the world.”

Dalitso Sulamoyo already had the credentials to lead the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies, but understood he needed to stay ahead of the curve by acquiring more tactical leadership skills to prepare for a multitude of unforeseen systemic challenges.

One of those challenges came in the form of millions of dollars in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds that were directed through the 40-member group of nonprofit organizations he oversees.

To prepare for this enormous change in funding and capacity, Sulamoyo drew upon some of the OD methods, research and case studies that he absorbed while at Benedictine and developed a framework to help bring all of the nonprofit agencies on board under a common mission.

“The Ph.D. in OD could not have come to me at a more perfect time,” Sulamoyo said. “Illinois became one of the leading states in the nation in weatherizing homes during the economic recovery. This outcome resulted from the collected efficacy that only OD techniques could have facilitated. OD strategies allowed us to respond strategically and systematically by creating green jobs in a troubled economy while assisting thousands of families to save on their utility costs.”

Other program alumni, like Sarah Malone and Kathy Schroeder, enrolled in the Ph.D. program to pursue new opportunities as consultants and academic scholars.

Today Malone is the president of TheAldonMalone Group, where she helps guide mid- and senior-level executives who are seeking to lead and empower change capacity throughout their organizations. Her clients include companies in business services, health care and education. She also works with economic development, environmental, community and transportation organizations in the United States and Canada.

“The Ph.D. credential has opened so many doors,” Malone said. “As a consultant, I work with leaders and organizations in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, and much of my work is directly connected to the relationship and affiliations I have made through my connection with Benedictine.

“One of the most impactful ways the program improved my career prospects is through building my confidence and being comfortable with presenting complex information to peers both as a scholar and a professional,” she added. “I learned to hold my own.”

Schroeder is the senior director of Organization Development for the global pharmaceuticals company Astellas. Like many alumni, she credits the program for introducing her to an extensive network of OD professionals, some of whom she still occasionally reaches out to for their expertise, support and advice.

“The program is very well connected to other OD academics around the country and is able to leverage these experts as visiting scholars to the program,” Schroeder said. “Not only does this make for exposure to a diverse range of perspectives, but it also builds your network as you embark on your next career steps after graduation.

“It has added breadth and depth to my practical field experience and has given me the tools and the vision to contribute as a scholar-practitioner while working full time in the corporate world and part-time as an adjunct faculty member,” she added. “I firmly believe that the Benedictine Ph.D. in OD program is the best in the country for executives who are seeking to add the Ph.D. experience to their portfolio.”

The program prepares individuals for high-level careers including human resources, health care, consulting, research, business, higher education and public administration. Weekend classes in the Chicago area allow professionals to work full-time while learning the skills needed to facilitate change and increase productivity at their company.

For more information about the Ph.D. in Organization Development at Benedictine, visit ben.edu/phd-od or contact (630) 829-6208 or pmeyers@ben.edu.

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Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors and 16 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country's fastest-growing campuses between 2002-2012 in The Chronicle of Higher Education's list of private nonprofit doctoral institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the fourth consecutive year in 2014. Benedictine University's Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain's Chicago Business as the sixth largest in the Chicago area in 2014.

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