DBA Graduate Highlights

Portrait of Dr. Kevin Paterson in a suitKevin Paterson Studies Different Factors Related to College Student Retention


After five years of studying while working full-time as the Director of IT over Workforce Digital Services Automation at USAA, Kevin Paterson graduated with his Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree in May 2023. He worked with Dr. Adam Guerrero to study the factors related to college student retention and published “Factors related to college student success: The case of a state university in the Midwest” and “Predictive Analytics in Education: Considerations in Predicting versus Explaining College Student Retention” in the Research in Higher Education Journal.

In addition to software engineering and business administration, Dr. Paterson has extensive experience in operational support and customer-focused initiatives in the area of Information Technology (IT). Prior to joining USAA, he worked for Lockheed Martin, Western Digital, and most recently IBM where he achieved the IBM Master Inventor designation. Additionally, he holds an MBA from the University of the Incarnate Word with an emphasis in Asset Management and a BA in Mathematics from San Jose State University with an emphasis in Computer Science.

Portrait of DBA student Nekilee Hughes

Nekilee Hughes' Journey of Service, Education, and Impact in Healthcare


As a veteran, who honorably served the United States Army for eight years, Nekilee went on to earn a Bachelor of Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, an MBA, an ASQ Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and certification in Long-Term Care Administration.

Nekilee began her career in healthcare as a Long-Term Care Assistant Administrator. During that tenure, Nekilee developed meaningful relationships with residents and a passion for strategically defining, developing, and implementing quality-of-care improvements for older persons. Eventually, she resigned from the high demands of being second in command of a large 330-bed skilled nursing facility to fulfill her responsibilities as a single parent.

That decision led to Nekilee's 20-year career at one of the nation's premier academic medical centers, where she oversees healthcare quality initiatives and processes required by regulatory purview. This experience has allowed Nekilee to develop and pen the organization’s step-by-step instruction manual, "Guide to Attain Disease-Specific Certifications."

Nekilee decided to pursue the Doctorate of Business Administration program at UIW to amalgamate her military, professional, and academic skill sets. She describes key program elements that shaped her DBA experience.

Nekilee notes that some courses require collaboration with community-based organizations to complete the course project and explains, “this gives students the experience to apply textbook theories to real-world practice.” Nekilee gained hands-on experience by working on a (course-related) process improvement project with her organization's Lean Six Sigma team. The success of this project resulted in Nekilee becoming the administrator of this regulatory required function at her organizationn.

Another key experience Nekilee describes was when Dr. Lehenbauer expressed interest in joining as a co-author on her research paper “The Persistent Problem of Gender Pay Gap.” Upon completion, they met at the Southwest Social Science Association annual conference, where Nekilee presented in April 2022. “Having the opportunity to co-author with a professor, then Dr. Lehenbauer passing the baton allowing me my first presentation at a professional conference, albeit four months into my dissertation, was a tremendous experience I gained.” 

The highlight of Dr. Nekilee Hughes' DBA experience was completing her phenomenological dissertation “VOICE: Views of Informal Caregivers and the Elderly” with guidance and support from her committee members, Dr. Diana Garza (Chair), Dr. Annette Craven and Dr. Adam Guerrero. Dr. Hughes’ passion for working on behalf of older adults propelled her ambition to conduct a study that explored the post-hospital experience from the perspectives of older adults and their informal caregivers. Dr. Hughes is optimistic that this study's contribution will lead to healthcare policy reform and help healthcare practitioners develop proactive family-centered post-discharge interventions by incorporating the Informal Caregiver Assessment and Profile ® diagnostic tool to help identify and meet the needs of elderly patients and their informal caregivers.

Currently, Dr. Hughes is working with faculty to publish studies stemming from her dissertation and has future goals to become a professor and help other scholars reach their academic goals. This is best exemplified when Dr. Hughes fulfilled Dr. Lunsford’s request and shared her dissertation literature review template with the DBA program to assist future students in collecting and synthesizing their research during their Culminating Experience coursework. 

Portrait of DBA student Alexander Rodriguez in a suit

Alexander Rodriguez Examines Consolidation Efforts of Educational Institutions that Comprise OCICU


After completing his bachelor’s degree in political science, Alex Rodriguez pursued his interest in business strategy by completing an MBA from the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University (TCU). Shortly thereafter, he took a position at an economic think tank founded by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, along with multiple consulting jobs that integrated marketing, strategy, and general business principles. Alex Rodriguez then entered academia teaching marketing, strategy, and general business courses at multiple educational institutions in the Boston-area, falling in love with helping students accomplish their goals, and, more generally, higher education. Alex’s passion for business, strategy, and higher education led him to the University of the Incarnate Word’s (UIW) Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program where he worked with Dr. Adam Guerrero to study disruptive innovations in higher education. In his doctoral research, Alex worked with Adam to examine the consolidation efforts of over 70 educational institutions that comprise the Online Consortium of Independent Colleges and Universities (OCICU). More specifically, cluster analysis was used to segment OCICU member schools into groups to better understand how customer needs vary by market. Further, OCICU commissioned a school-to-school satisfaction survey that made it possible to study the “drivers” of satisfaction related to key aspects of their offerings using regression analysis, factor analysis, and multivariate analysis of variance. Alex is excited to use everything he learned while working on his doctorate degree at UIW in his new position as the Director of Corporate and Community Education at Northern Essex Community College (NECC). He would like to extend a special thanks to Jonathan Lovejoy, the acting Dean at UIW’s School of Professional Studies (SPS), for making the research opportunity with OCICU possible.

Dr. Brit Peek, Dr. Diane Rodriguez, and Dr. Joren Scharn Complete Full Research Dissertations


Please join us in warmly congratulating Dr. Brit Peek, Dr. Diane Rodriguez, and Dr. Joren Scharn who will be walking the stage in December 2019 to receive their Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degrees for successfully completing all the requirements of the program culminating in a full dissertation.

In the DBA program at the School of Professional Studies, students have the choice of pursuing a full dissertation over the course of a minimum of three semesters or selecting the presentation/publication/work-based project options to meet the culminating experience requirements of the 45-hour (minimum requirement) program successfully after finishing at least 33 credit hours of the core coursework. In the past, a majority of the graduating students have pursued the presentation/publication/work-based study options but all of that changed this year with three of our DBA students completing full dissertations and successfully defending them publicly in August, 2019. More than a total of 85 people attended the three Public Defenses that were held on August 21 – 23 by Zoom conferencing and each student had the chance to get very meaningful feedback from the audience.

All three students started their individual research journeys in Summer 2018, when they worked on mixed methods research proposals for one of their classes. Once they explored the literature and found the potential for a meaningful contribution in their fields of interest, the students decided to take the dissertation path towards graduation. The titles and brief description of their dissertations are as given below. Please feel free to reach out to us if you would like more information about any of these dissertations.

Dr. Peek, who lives in San Antonio, worked on her dissertation titled “Affordable Care Act and Preventive Care Usage: A Mixed Method Analysis of Cardiovascular Care” under the direction and support from her dissertation committee, which consisted of Dr. Kruti Lehenbauer (Chair), Dr. Bob Kiser, and Dr. Alan Xenakis. The main goal of the dissertation was to identify whether the usage of preventive care for cardiovascular services such as cholesterol checks and blood pressure checks had increased after the Affordable Care Act mandated medical insurance for the population in the United States. Dr. Peek finds that when comparing pre-ACA and post-ACA data obtained from the MEPS National surveys that while the number of uninsured people decreased between 2009 and 2015, there was no substantial impact on the usage of preventive cardiovascular health services indicating that the ACA might not play a significant role in reducing the mortality rates directly associated with chronic cardiovascular diseases in the population.

Dr. Rodriguez also lives in San Antonio and worked on her dissertation titled “Preventive Care Usage in the United States: Does Health Insurance Matter?” under the direction and support from her dissertation committee, which consisted of Dr. Kruti Lehenbauer (Chair), Dr. Adam Guerrero, and Dr. Gregg Anders. The main goal of this dissertation was to test whether insured and uninsured people in the United States have distinct approaches to using preventive care services for cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and general physical checkups using MEPS National Survey data for the year 2015. Dr. Rodriguez finds that there are distinct differences among people with and without health insurance and their approaches to preventive health care in general. Socioeconomic variables such as race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and income play a large role in both, the propensity to have health insurance as well as the propensity to utilize preventive care services.

Dr. Scharn, who lives in The Netherlands, worked on his dissertation titled “Understanding Employee Engagement: A Mixed-Methods Study” under the tutelage of his dissertation committee consisting of Dr. Kruti Lehenbauer (Chair), Dr. Adam Guerrero, and Dr. Diana Garza. The goal of this mixed methods dissertation was to identify whether the methods by which employers currently and traditionally attempt to measure “employee engagement,” are sufficient. Employee engagement is often considered to be one of the crucial intangibles that can impact employee productivity and employee satisfaction, and thereby the bottom line for companies! Dr. Scharn uses a three-pronged approach to his analysis by comparing the results from secondary datasets obtained from International agencies to a primary dataset created by collecting surveys from individuals working in the financial sector in the San Antonio region and then further testing the outcomes qualitatively by conducting personal interviews with a small sample chosen from among those that completed the surveys. His results indicate that while current methodologies capture some components of employee engagement, the measurements and surveys used are insufficient to accurately estimate employee engagement and related factors in the context of employee productivity.

Portrait of Trevor ChayerTrevor Chayer Presented Airbnb Case Study at The International Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship


UIW Doctor of Business Administration student Trevor Chayer presented “Revolutionizing the Shared Economy: How Airbnb Changed the Travel Industry” in Washington, D.C. on March 5, 2018. The International Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship was hosted by Georgetown University, George Washington University, and the University of the District of Columbia. Mr. Chayer and his co-author, Professor of Management and Chairman of the DBA Program Dr. Ryan Lunsford, examined how Airbnb facilitated its network of internet users to create a $30 billion peer-to-peer market, with more than 150 million travelers significantly contributing to the sharing economy and how Airbnb has formatively shaped the sharing economy phenomenon.

Read more in the Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Ric Lowe Publishes Case Study Highlighting the Transformative Reutilization of Brooks City Base


Ric Lowe, DBA candidate, published his case study “Brooks City-Base: The Astute Rebranding of a National Icon” in the Academy of Business Research Journal.

Read More in the Academy of Business Research Journal

Rodney Kelley Publishes Research on Military Retention


Rodney Kelley, DBA candidate, published his study analyzing job satisfaction variables that impact re-enlistment by reserve component service members after he presented his findings in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in October.

Read Mr Kelley's Full Study

John Soltau Published Peer Review CPS Energy Case Study


Doctor of Business Administration Student John Soltau had his case study examining how CPS Energy manages disruptive forces published in Case Studies in Business and Management. Mr. Soltau investigated the major forces responsible for disrupting the utility space, namely, disruptive energy resources and energy efficiency/demand response, and he evaluated their influence on the sector.

Read More at the Macrothink Institute

Trevor Chayer Presents Crossfit Inc. Case Study


UIW Doctor of Business Administration student Trevor Chayer presented Is CrossFit Built for the Long Haul at the Academy of Business Research. His case study explored the unique business model of CrossFit Inc. and its fast rise from a small, obscure gym in California to a worldwide phenomenon. Chayer examined the CrossFit brand, its entrepreneurial model that enabled it to grow quickly and profitably, and the likelihood that its model will lead to sustainable, long-term profitability. Chayer concluded his case study presentation by considering recent controversies, criticisms, and lawsuits that CrossFit faces. Chayer is a Management Analyst in the United States Air Force at Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. He has served separate tours in Afghanistan and Qatar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Steven Ferrell and Dr. Lunsford Published in Widely Cited Journal of Business Case Studies


Dr. Ryan Lunsford, Associate Professor of Business at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, and Mr. Steven Ferrell, student in UIW’s Doctor of Business Administration Program, were published in the Journal of Business Case Studies. Their article “CPS Energy: Leading The Way To A Sustainable Future” presents the Nation’s largest city-owned and publicly-operated energy company as the model of what a sustainable, 21st Century energy company can be.

Read More at the Journal of Business Case Studies