Sunday, June 7, 2009, Page 2B

The doctoral dissertation of Dr. James M. Owston, a senior academic officer in distance education at Mountain State University, has won its second outstanding research award. While less than one percent of the population receives a research doctorate, few individuals are honored with one dissertation award let alone two.

Owston’s dissertation is the 2009 winner of the Alice L. Beeman Dissertation Award for Outstanding Research in Communications and Marketing for Educational Advancement. This international award centers on the research facets of marketing, public relations, government relations, issues management, and institutional image enhancement. Owston’s work documented each of these marketing areas relating to the rebranding of colleges as universities.

Last year, Owston received the 2008 Leo and Margaret Goodman-Malamuth Outstanding Dissertation Award for Research in Higher Educational Administration.
Owston’s dissertation, “Survival of the Fittest? The Rebranding of West Virginia Higher Education,” was completed in the leadership studies program at Marshall University in November 2007. While centering on the on the successes and pitfalls of institutional rebranding strategies at 11 West Virginia institutions, the work drew upon original research of over 160 rebranded colleges and universities in the United States.

According AAUA awards chair, Dr. Jerome L. Neuner, Owston became a finalist largely because of the “multiple methodologies underlying his work including the use of statistical, ethnographic, and case study methods. The breadth of his inquiry made it necessary for him to frame questions in different formats and seek answers with different tools.”

Owston teaches undergraduate and graduate communication and media classes and serves on the school’s institutional review board and assessment committee. He also is a board member of the Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.