The Word Online The Word Online
The Word Online Home The Word Archives UIW Home

Feature Stories

Message from the President


University Collective

Class Notess

Feature Stories

First two doctoral degrees in the 121-year history

First two doctoral degrees in the 121-year historyIN A HISTORY MAKING CEREMONY, the December 2001 commencement featured the awarding of the first doctoral degrees in the 121-year history of the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW).

Dr. William Schurter and Dr. Mickey Tehan were the recipients of the University's first-ever doctoral degrees. Dr. Schurter earned a Ph.D. in Education with a concentration in Mathematics Education. Dr. Tehan earned a Ph.D. in Education with a concentration in Organizational Leadership.

Both students were among the "pioneers" who began the doctoral program in 1997 under the leadership of Dr. D. Reginald "Reg" Traylor, who at the time was Dean of Graduate Studies and Research.

"It is a great feeling of accomplishment, to start with a blank page and see a program develop and students progress through it to graduation." said Dr. Traylor. "Working with many different people, resolving issues and questions, recruiting students and implementing the program, with clearances from appropriate Boards and Agencies, did not happen easily or overnight.

"Many good people worked hard and I was pleased to be a part of that. Dr. Louis Agnese (President of UIW) has earned all the credit that can be directed to him for providing the leadership … a mixture of academic sense, stubbornness and determination at the highest level - he certainly was up to the task."

The dream of the program's creators was to design a course of study that would integrate the research and analytical processes of a traditional doctoral program with Incarnate Word's mission to create leaders who have the skills and the ideals to make a positive change in the world.

To this end, they developed an interdisciplinary doctoral program in Education that would tap the expertise of UIW faculty across the campus. Accordingly, professors from business, philosophy, education, history, nursing, mathematics, and the sciences teach the classes and direct dissertations.

The curriculum incorporates an ethic of leadership that recognizes Catholic and other universal dimensions of social concerns. This allows students to not only contribute to their scholarly endeavors but to apply their education to issues facing the organizations, institutions and communities they lead.

The program has a common core and three concentrations; the two that produced Incarnate Word's first Ph.D. recipients - Organizational Leadership and Mathematics Education - plus International Education and Entrepreneurship.

Students that join the doctoral program come from a variety of fields including business, public and social services, health, education and international relations and endeavors. Moreover, in keeping with the "Global Mission" of Incarnate Word, nearly half of the more than 130 students are from outside the United States, primarily from the Pacific Rim, Central and South America, the Middle East and Europe.

Marilyn Vos Savant, reported to have the highest intelligence ever measured, once said that, "to acquire knowledge, one must observe." Dr. Tehan says that is an appropriate way to describe her five-year educational journey from knowledge to wisdom.

Dr. Tehan, 63, credits her family for its steadfast support while she pursued her academic dreams. "My husband, Mike, my greatest supporter and my best friend, walked every step of the journey by my side, advising me, encouraging me, and helping me in every possible way, hour by hour, day by day and year by year," she said. "Without Mike's support, I would never have begun this educational journey nor could I possibly have finished it.

"I would also like to thank Dr. Robert Connelly, Dr. Judith Beauford, and Dr. James Sorensen for sharing their wisdom with me throughout this past year," Dr. Tehan added. "Sister Helena Monahan, the chair of my committee was a true mentor, a wise and trusted helpmate, and I am deeply indebted to her for her patience and enduring trust in me throughout the entire dissertation process."

Dr. Tehan's teaching career has spanned 25 years. From 1974 to 1983 she taught a pilot program that she designed and initiated for dyslexic students at the Briarcliff Middle School in Briarcliff Manor, New York. Her move to San Antonio, Texas, brought her to Alamo Heights Junior High where she taught eighth grade English from 1984 to 1996. While beginning her doctoral course work in 1997, she was an instructor in the Academic Literacy and Rhetoric program at UIW. In 1998, during the course of her doctoral work, she assisted Dr. Judy Vogt in teaching business and leadership courses to Taiwanese students at the International Conference Center.

Dr. Tehan has received various honors and awards during her teaching career. She was the representative of the Alamo Heights School District for Texas Teacher of the Year in 1996. In that same year she was selected for inclusion in Who's Who Among America's Teachers.

Now that she has completed her doctoral degree, Dr. Tehan would like to resume her teaching career at the college or university level.

For Dr. Schurter, earning a Ph.D. was a dream come true. "UIW has truly provided a much needed service to the San Antonio community in developing the doctoral programs," said Dr. Schurter, who is 60.

After entering the U.S. Army in 1965, Dr. Schurter served with distinction during the next 27 years, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. During this time he worked primarily in the areas of logistics operations and systems engineering, research, development and testing.

While in the Army, Dr. Schurter attended the University of Southern California, where he received a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1978. He later served as an Assistant Project Manager for the development of a major Army missile system, and was subsequently designated as a certified Army Materiel Acquisition Manager.

Dr. Schurter retired from the Army in 1992 and moved to San Antonio, where he worked as a part-time teacher of mathematics for several different colleges and universities. He began with the university as an adjunct faculty member in 1995 and currently holds the position of Coordinator for Academic Literacy Mathematics and manages and supervises the developmental mathematics program.

Dr. Schurter continues to apply his research in the classroom, as he strives to improve the teaching and success of our developmental mathematics students. In achieving his goal of completing his doctoral degree, he has the following advice for students: "Go for it. Never give up, and it's never too late to reach your dreams."