BenU's Ph.D. in Organization Development program celebrates 20 years of accomplishments

July 5, 2016

Lisle, Ill. ~ It was two decades ago that Benedictine first became a university — thanks in large part to the launch of its first doctoral program, the Ph.D. in Organization Development (OD).

Peter Sorensen, Ph.D., was directing the successful Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior program at Benedictine when in 1995, an external review team composed of faculty from other major universities recommended he and the University work to build upon the program’s success. They proposed the addition of the doctoral program in OD that would be designed to help high-level executives and managers more successfully manage and organize change within their organizations.

“They said, ‘You have a dynamite master’s program, so why don’t you create a Ph.D. program?’” Sorensen recalled. “It was people from the field who really said we should do this.”

With strong support throughout the University, the OD program became the first doctoral-level program at Benedictine, the first doctoral degree at any Benedictine college or university, and one of the first doctoral programs of its kind in the field.

The program launched in 1996 with 17 students. It has since become a top-rated, award-winning program known internationally for preparing more than 200 senior leaders and change agents in a wide variety of fields and at global organizations such as CNN Worldwide, Abbott Laboratories, McDonald’s Corporation, and other Fortune 500 organizations such as Boeing, Dow Chemical Company and General Motors.

Years later, the external review team came back and said the program had established itself as one of the preeminent programs in the field.

Today, a major hallmark of the program is the number of research contributions students continue to make through published papers or as authors in major texts after they graduate from the program, said Therese Yaeger, Ph.D., a professor in the program who is acknowledged as a leader in corporate and organization dynamics.

“It’s our alumni who continue to be scholarly practitioners and academics in the field who make our program so well-known,” Yaeger said. “With other programs, you get the letters and you are out. Our students understand lifelong contribution.”

Professor Ramkrishnan Tenkasi, Ph.D., joined the program in 1998 as a Fulbright scholar. His work is widely recognized as important research in the field and includes organizational knowledge, learning and change, and mediation/moderation by organizational design choices. Sorensen and Yaeger have received lifetime achievement awards and distinguished educator awards from leading professional associations in the field.

Students in the program have access to distinguished thinkers through the visiting scholars brought to campus from all over the world, people who are well known throughout academia, according to Sorensen. Students can also build relationships with top leaders in the field through one of the largest alumni networks of executive leaders in the international Academy of Management.

“That’s an important plus for our students,” he said. “They’ve literally studied with the best.”

In addition, students can easily fit weekend classes into a busy career schedule, which makes earning this degree convenient.

For more information about the Ph.D. in OD program, visit, contact (630) 829-6208 or


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the fifth consecutive year in 2015. A 2016 PayScale Inc. report ranked BenU one of the top 10 colleges in Illinois for return on investment and in the top 20 percent nationally. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, or visit

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