History Made; WWU Awards First Doctorates

Julie
Dill and Amy James made history Dec. 14 when they become Dr. Julie Dill and Dr.
Amy James. They were the first persons to receive doctorate degrees from
William Woods University.
They
also joined an elite number. Only 1.3 percent of the U.S. population holds
either Ph.D.s or Ed.D.s.
 
Dill
is superintendent of Johnson County R-VII School District in Crest Ridge, and
James is principal of Southern Boone Elementary School in Ashland. They both
started working toward their doctorates in educational leadership in August
2010.
 
This was even before WWU was approved by its accrediting
body, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), to offer the degree.
 
It was a leap of faith on the part of the educators who
believed so strongly that William Woods would be accredited that they were
willing to start classes even before the approval came.
 
“I
chose WWU because it really made sense,” Dill said. “I am an adjunct faculty
member and have been involved with WWU for the past five years and really had a
sense of the successes their programs. 
The cohort model is a great idea and provides an added network of
professionals you can reach out to.”
 
She added, “I was impressed with the quality education that
William Woods University offers for working professionals. The doctoral
program has afforded me a wonderful opportunity to grow professionally and
personally. They really do provide a solid program for today’s educators.”
 
William Woods University has been offering master’s degree
programs since 1993 and added an education specialist program in 2003.
As Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, WWU president, likes to point out,
William Woods serves the largest population of
graduate students earning principal and superintendent certification in Missouri,
and graduates hold more than 500 school administrative positions within the
state.
 
“This
speaks about the long-standing quality of our academic programs, particularly
the graduate programs for educators,” Barnett says.
 
William
Woods promotes its programs as being flexible and compatible with work and
family life.  James is a good example the
program works.
 
“I
have a family of four girls and my husband; my girls are 15, 12, 10 and 7,”
James said.  “This program worked great
for the non-traditional student.  Class
once a week and homework or writing my dissertation on the weekends. You do
have to really want the Ed,D, to make it through the program.  You must have self discipline and personal
drive.”
 
Dill
and her husband of 28 years have two daughters and a 20-year-old son. They also
have three granddaughters and one grandson, all under the age of 5, and are
eagerly awaiting a second grandson in December.
 
“The
William Woods program was a good fit,” Dill said. “My family and I knew that
for two years, every Thursday night, I had college. As I started working on my
dissertation this summer, my family really supported me with time to read,
write and develop my research.”
 
Dill received backing from her school district, as well.
After starting her doctoral degree, she left her position as director of
student services in Sedalia to become superintendent at Johnson County R-VII –
Crest Ridge School District, near Warrensburg.
 
“The
board of education was very supportive and understanding. (They knew) my
Thursday nights were dedicated to my degree.”
 
Prior
to pursuing her doctorate from William Woods, Dill received three degrees from
Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kan.—a bachelor’s degree in elementary
education, a master’s degree in special education and an educational specialist
degree in educational leadership.
 
Dill
has taught K-6 in regular education, 7-12 special education and 7-12 at risk
education (both as a teacher and a program director). She has served as
elementary principal, assistant high school principal, director of student
services (a district-level position) and now the superintendent of
schools.  
 
Unlike
Dill, James earned both her Master of Education and Education Specialist
degrees from William Woods.  She
completed her B.S. in education at the University of Central Missouri.
 
She
has taught seventh grade English and reading at both Lewis and Clark in
Jefferson City and Rolla Middle School. She was the principal at North Callaway
R-I for a PreK-8th grade building, and an assistant principal at Gratz Brown
Elementary School in Moberly before becoming principal at Southern Boone
Elementary.
 
James
is honored to be one of the first to graduate with a doctorate.
 
“I
absolutely love WWU and am proud to say that I am one of the first to receive
the doctorate from here. WWU has been great through all of my graduate
programs, and I made it a goal of mine to graduate in December of 2012.”
 
On
the other hand, Dill “ … never really thought about it
until the night I defended my dissertation.  My committee was very excited
about me being the first ever, and it was really at that point it hit me how
special this was going to be.” 
 
Dill said she was only able to reach
her goal with “the terrific family support and the guidance of Dr. Michael
Westerfield,” vice president and dean of the WWU Graduate College and her
committee chair. 
 
“Dr. Westerfield was a tremendous
support throughout this process.  I really felt he truly cared about my
work. My committee was a great team for me,” she said.
 
Posted in News Releases