UWG Achieves Milestone with First Ph.D. Graduate

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

True to its progressive spirit, the University of West Georgia (UWG) continued to blaze trails, awarding its first doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree on Saturday, July 28.

Photo: President Beheruz N. Sethna congratulates Dr. John Roberts after receiving his doctoral hood from the Dean of the College of Social Sciences, Dr. Jane McCandless, and his advisor, Dr. Kareen Malone. (Photo credit: Village Photographers, Auburn, Ala.)“I am delighted that the University of West Georgia was the first institution in USG history to award a Ph.D. outside of the four research universities,” said Dr. Beheruz N. Sethna, president of UWG. “We knew when we began this journey it was uncharted territory. But we also knew that when opportunity is combined with hard work and unwavering commitment, the possibilities are endless.”

The prestigious honor went to the now Dr. John Roberts of Birmingham, Ala. Roberts was already an accomplished scholar, holding four other degrees including a law degree before earning both a master’s and a Ph.D. in psychology from UWG.

“Congratulations to Dr. John Roberts and to his advisor, Dr. Kareen Malone, his dissertation committee, and Department Chair Dr. Don Rice,” said Sethna. “This is truly a momentous occasion.”

“It was a long road, going back several years when we were told that we could not have a Ph.D., and so our faculty colleagues in psychology developed a Psy.D. instead,” Sethna recounted. “But we were resolute in our desire to offer the Ph.D. and I kept asking until I got to ‘yes.’”

“The process to obtain approval required support from the senior staff of the University System Office and from each of the three research universities which offer a Ph.D. in psychology. It also required exceptional work on the part of our psychology faculty, led by Drs. Rice and Malone. Finally, we obtained the support of my colleague research university presidents and their provosts as well as external reviewers from prestigious universities, which paved the way for Board of Regents’ approval in February 2011.”

Sethna went on to say, “I want to express my profound thanks to many people, especially Drs. Malone and Rice and the faculty of the Department of Psychology. Our deep appreciation also extends to the senior staff of the University System Office and to Regent Ken Bernard who were very helpful throughout the approval process.”

Beyond the Ph.D. in psychology, UWG currently also offers three other doctoral degrees: one in professional counseling and supervision and another in school improvement within the College of Education and then the School of Nursing launches its inaugural Ed.D. in nursing education fall 2012. Both the Ed.D. in school improvement and in nursing education are offered entirely online after an on-campus orientation session.

“When I came to UWG, I felt intellectually and spiritually at home,” said Roberts. When asked about his future plans, he heartily remarked, “My ultimate goal is to teach—hopefully at West Georgia.” 

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Photo: President Beheruz N. Sethna congratulates Dr. John Roberts after receiving his doctoral hood from the Dean of the College of Social Sciences, Dr. Jane McCandless, and his advisor, Dr. Kareen Malone. (Photo credit: Village Photographers, Auburn, Ala.)