Think Globally, Act Globally

By Matthew C. Stevens

USC Rossier graduated its second cohort from the Global Executive Doctor of Education program in a ceremony at the Town & Gown of USC on Friday, July 17. Graduates hailed from throughout the United States as well as Brunei, China, Qatar, Singapore, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates.

“The name of our university speaks to where it began 135 years ago,” said program co-chair Mark Power Robison to the 15 graduates, “but we think of this now as a global institution with a global reach.”

The 2015 graduates of the Global Executive EdD program.

The 2015 graduates of the Global Executive EdD program.

“The Global Executive EdD program doesn’t only transform leaders to become global education executives able to solve problems within our organizations, but it also empowers us with the resources and knowledge to transform lives on a global scale.”
—Brenda Sinclair EdD ’15

Established in 2012, the Global Executive Doctor of Education program is designed for full-time working professionals around the world who have a master’s degree and significant leadership experience. For Brenda Sinclair, recipient of the 2015 Dissertation Award of Merit, the program’s flexibility allowed her to continue her consulting work for her own San Francisco–based company, Global Education Advisors.

“This was the perfect balance, allowing me to stay in my career and still complete the degree in two years,” she said.

Students met nine times over 25 months in immersive sessions that rotated from Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Doha, Qatar.

Brenda Sinclair EdD ’15

Brenda Sinclair EdD ’15

“What I really loved about the program,” said Sinclair, “was that each of the nine sessions gave us 40 hours of strong interaction with a professor. In other programs you might meet with faculty a couple hours a week over 15 weeks, so this was intense.”

Sinclair’s varied background has included improving the implementation of international education development projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Her award-winning dissertation was titled “Improving Early Grade Reading Instruction in Ghana: A Discrepancy Gap Analysis.”

“The Global Executive EdD program doesn’t only transform leaders to become global education executives able to solve problems within our organizations,” said Sinclair, “but it also empowers us with the resources and knowledge to transform lives on a global scale.”

Fellow student Patrick Siow Gian Liew came to the program with different goals from Sinclair but shared her enthusiasm to transform lives. He is chairman of HSR Global Limited, a Singapore-based real estate company, and founder of Success Resources, a multinational professional training and seminar company. He is equal parts entrepreneur and humanitarian, focusing his dissertation on a gap analysis of financial literacy in impoverished parts of the world.

Liew grew up in poverty in Singapore but has achieved unimaginable financial success. He explains why education remains his primary currency: “Only a school of education has the models, strategies, tools and other resources to help us impact lives and to be able to change a community on a sustainable level.”

Patrick Siow Gian Liew EdD ’15

Patrick Siow Gian Liew EdD ’15

“If you want to practice any trade today in the economy, you need to continue to learn throughout your life,” he continued. “And I’ve also learned that the day that I stop learning, I immediately become uneducated. Lifelong learning is the only true competitive advantage in life.”

Also in attendance at the commencement were members of the third cohort, set to graduate next July, and the fourth cohort, brand new this month with eight more international terms in front of them.

Program co-chair Rob Filback quoted Goethe from the dais, directing his words to the newest cohort as much as to the graduating cohort:

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

Assistant Professor Cathy Krop, a favorite among the students for her ability to tease out the practical implementations of education policy, can already see some of that boldness in action.

“This is a group of innovative education leaders who I know we will all be looking to in the future to watch their accomplishments,” she said after the ceremony.