Skip to Main Content
College of Education and Human Services
twoColumn twoLeft

The Thomas A. Mulkeen Dissertation Award

Thomas A. Mulkeen was a professor at Fordham University who was hired as a consultant and shared his expertise with faculty at UNF as they designed and developed the EdD doctoral program in Educational Leadership. Tom was a leader within the Danforth Foundation initiative that sought to redesign and improve graduate programs in Educational Leadership. It was Tom who encouraged the doctoral program to focus the dissertation on practice-centered inquiry. Unfortunately, Tom passed away around the time that the UNF EdD program graduated the first students in 1994. In honor of his work, the EdD program faculty established this award in his honor. This award is given to the dissertation that best exemplifies practice-centered inquiry. 


The College of Education and Human Services, Department of Leadership, School Counseling, and Sport Leadership will celebrate its Educational Leadership doctorate recipients with an annual presentation of the prestigious Thomas Mulkeen Award, tentatively scheduled to take place during the COEHS Convocation. The Award is given to the graduate whose doctoral dissertation best exemplifies practice-centered inquiry. An ad-hoc group of the doctoral teaching faculty will evaluate the submitted dissertations based on the following criteria:

  1. Conceptually clear and important problem or hypotheses;
  2. Comprehensive review of applicable literature;
  3. Utilization of appropriate and methodologically sound approach; 
  4. Cogent analysis of data;
  5. Clear discussion of the importance and relevance of the study; 
  6. Scholarly writing style and appropriate documentation (citations and references in APA style);
  7. Potential of the inquiry to influence education practice.

Information about the next nomination window is shared here when it is available.

2024 Recipients of the Thomas Mulkeen Award for the Doctoral Dissertation that Best Exemplifies Practice-Centered Inquiry 

Shaneka Ferrell head shot

Dr. Shaneka Ferrell

Dr. Shaneka Ferrell serves as the Director of Programs at Cathedral Arts Project, overseeing performing and visual arts programs, where her role involves supporting teaching artists, facilitating professional development, and analyzing data to enhance program effectiveness. With a background in counselor education, she prioritizes ensuring students' voices are heard and any barriers to their holistic growth are addressed. She believes in empowering students to be active partners in shaping educational policies. Dr. Ferrell’s dissertation, How performing arts high school students experienced involvement in a Black, student-created and student-led organization focused on uplifting Black art and artists: A critical phenomenological study with implications for culturally responsive and sustaining educational practices. How participants made meaning of their experiences, she developed recommendations for schools serving racially and ethnically diverse students to implement culturally responsive and sustaining practices. Dr. Ferrell is dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment where students can thrive creatively and academically.

Dr. Ferrell's Dissertation 

Headshot of Laura Mayberry

Dr. Laura Mayberry

Dr. Laura Mayberry serves as an Assistant Principal for Clay County District Schools. Prior to becoming an Assistant Principal, she spent 14 years in the classroom as an Economics teacher. The focus of her research grew out of her own experiences as a classroom teacher implementing a standard-based grading system. After leading professional development sessions and book studies on the topic, she entered UNF’s doctoral program in order to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of grading on student outcomes. Under the guidance of her advisor, Dr. Daniel Dinsmore, she completed her dissertation, Making the grade: Do teacher-created grading systems result in disparate outcomes for high school students? Her quantitative study found that students’ assigned teacher was a significant factor in determining their course grade after controlling for their standardized test scores and demographic factors, pointing to the need for more professional development around teacher grading practices.

Dr. Mayberry's Dissertation

Past Recipients of the Thomas Mulkeen Award for the Doctoral Dissertation that Best Exemplifies Practice-Centered Inquiry


Dr. Laurie Hoppock

Chair: Dr. David Hoppey

Examining the Shared Perceptions Surrounding the Most Important Elements to Include in the Design of a Classroom-Based Therapeutic Visual Arts Program Serving Students with Autism

Dr. Jennifer Shepard

Chair: Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey

Principal Professional Learning: Exploring Personal and Contextual Barriers and Facilitators of Change


Dr. Lee Anderson Louy

Chair: Dr. David Hoppey

The Role Academic Deans Play in Public Higher Education Fundraising

Dr. Jennifer Perkins 

Chair: Dr. Amanda Blakewood Pascale

College Choice and College Match Among High-Achieving Pell-Eligible Students: An Instrumental Case Study Exploring Social Actor Influence


Cheryl Mobley Gonzalez

Chair: Dr. Anne Swanson

Making Meaning of Supplier Diversity in Florida's Public Universities: A Narrative Inquiry of Educational Connoisseurship and Criticism

Megan McMillan 

Chair: Dr. David Hoppey

Leading Effective Inclusive Schools: How Principals Make the Difference


Kristen Duffney

Chair: Dr. Daniel Dinsmore, Ph. D

Effects of Online ABA Training on Stress Levels of Parents with a Child with Autism

Raine Osborne Jr. 

Chair: Dr. Daniel Dinsmore, Ph. D  

Education for Engagement: The Influence of Physcal Therapist Education on Lifelong Learning and Professional Engagement


Sarah Friswold-Atwood

Chair: Dr. Daniel Dinsmore, Ph. D

Living-Learning Communities Effect on Students’ Self-Efficacy of their Successful Social and Academic Transition to College

Anthony Mortimer

Co-Chairs: Dr. Carolyn Ali-Khan, Ph. D. and Dr. Daniel Dinsmore, Ph. D

Priorities for School Safety: The Alignment between Federal and State School Safety Legislation and Safety Needs as Perceived by Education Stakeholders in Florida Private Schools for Exceptional Students


Travis Henderson

Chair: Anne K. Swanson, Ph. D

Professional Conversations within Self-Contained Classrooms: The Shared Perspectives of Teachers, Paraprofessionals, and Administrators


Shawn Brayton

Chair: Elinor A. Scheirer, Ph.D.

Participant Perceptions of Knowledge Sharing in a Higher Education Community of Practice


Mai Keisling

Chair: Christopher Janson, Ph. D.

Community Leaders' Perceptions of Their Leadership Behaviors and Practices Used to Influence K-12 Public Education: A Q Methodology Study


Tavy Wells

Chair: Larry G. Daniel, Ph. D.

Predictive Utility and Achievement Outcomes of Two Simultaneous District-Developed Interim Assessment Programs


William Ganza

Chair: Katherine Kasten Ph.D.

The Impact of Online Professional Development on Online Teaching in Higher Education

Jevetta Stanford

Chair: Katherine Kasten Ph.D.

Ecological Influences on Weight Status in Urban African-American Adolescent Females: A Structural Equation Analysis


Janie Smalley

Chair: Katherine Kasten, Ph.D.

Leadership Characteristics and Practices of Selected High-Performing Nonprofit Organizations in Northeast Florida


Jeane Richards

Chair: Larry G. Daniel, Ph.D.     

Teaching for Cultural Competence: Preferred Strategies of Baccalaureate Nursing Faculty


Robert Todd Parrish

Chair: Katherine Kasten, Ph.D.

The Teach for Florida Project: A Case Study of Alternative Route Certification Policy


Angela Garcia Falconetti

Chair: Joyce T. Jones, Ph.D.

Articulation, Academic Progress, and Graduation: A Comparison of Community College Transfer and Native Students in Selected Florida Universities

James Young

Chair: Cheryl Fountain, Ph.D.

Assessing the Impact of Family Coaching on Parental Attitudes and Behaviors


Gigi M. David

Chair, Katherine M. Kasten, Ph.D.

Assessing the Impact of a Visual Arts Family-Focused Pre-Kindergarten Intervention


Cynthia S. Jacobs

Chair -- Katherine M. Kasten, Ph.D.

Accreditation in TeacherEducation: An Analysis of the Costs and Benefits Associated with NCATE PeerReview


LaDonna K. Morris

Chair – Larry G. Daniel, Ph.D.

Perceptions of a Chilly Climate: Differences in Traditional and Non-traditional Majors for Women



Claribel Torres-Lugo

Co-Chairs: Warren A. Hodge, Ph.D. and Larry G. Daniel, Ph.D.

Principal’s Assessment of Florida’s Accountability Model: A Descriptive Overview of School Factors Associated with High-Stakes Accountability


John A Frank

Chair: Charles M. Galloway, Ed.D.

Transformational Leadership and Moral Discourse in the Workplace and Civil Society


Joel Whitt Beam

Chair: Thomas S. Serwatka, Ph.D.

Preferred Leadership of NCAA Division I and II Intercollegiate Student-Athletes


Margo L. Martin

Chair: Thomas S. Serwatka, Ph.D.

The Connection Among Computer-Mediated Communication, Course Completion Rate, and Achievement in Relation to Distance Education and the English Composition Student


Kathryn M. Krudwig

Chair: Robert J. Drummond, Ed.D.

Learner Centeredness as a Predictor of Teachers' Role Stress and Career Commitment


Judith B. Poppell

Chair: Katherine M. Kasten, Ph.D.

The Effect of School Desegregation on an Historically Black High School 


Madelaine M. Cosgrove

Chair: Katherine M. Kasten, Ph.D.

The Impact of Professional Development School Activities on Classroom Teachers’ Sense of Efficacy and Classroom Practice


Linda Rhea Hunter

Chair: Robert J. Drummond, Ed.D.

Use of the Nurse Entrance Test and Other Factors as Predictors of Academic Success of Nursing Students


Jeanne E. Borstein

Chair: Elinor A. Scheirer, Ph.D.

The Effects of Cooperative Learning on the Attitudes and Achievement of Academically Talented Secondary Students


Paige V. French

Co-chairs: Charles M. Galloway, Ed.D., Katherine M. Kasten, Ph.D.

The Roles of School and Advisory Councils in School Improvement:  A Case Study in Policy Interpretation