|May/June 2008 Edition||
Monday, June 23, 2008 11:40:31 PM
Senior Academic Officer To Receive Honor
BECKLEY- James M. Owston, Ed.D., senior academic officer for instructional technology at Mountain State University, was notified recently that he will receive the Leo and Margaret Goodman-Malamuth Outstanding Dissertation Award for 2008 on June 27 in Salt Lake City.
Owston’s doctoral dissertation, titled Survival of the Fittest? The Rebranding of West Virginia Higher Education, has been recognized this year by the American Association of University Administrators, the sponsor of this national award. The dissertation explains the factors that led eleven institutions in the state of West Virginia during the past thirty years to restructure and transition from college to university status.
“Dr. Charles H. Polk’s engineering of the transformation of Beckley College eventually to Mountain State University was a catalyst for my choice of the subject matter,” said Owston. He also admitted that had not Polk persuaded him a number of years ago to pursue doctoral studies, he would have never sought the advanced degree. Polk also served on Owston’s dissertation committee.
The AAUA’s criteria for the award included the importance and relevance of the topic to the broad field of higher education administration; evidence of the development of a theoretical framework which guided the research; the appropriateness of the research method and analysis; the overall quality of writing the potential for publication and/or other disseminations of research results; and the degree to which the results provide useful information for practitioners in the professional field of higher education.
According to Dr. Owston’s dissertation chair, Dr. Barbara L. Nicholson, “Jim brought remarkable energy and enthusiasm to his research, despite the long hours of solitary travel, the tedious process of transcribing lengthy interviews, and the painstaking care with which he sorted through archival data to find the institutional gems that brightened his writing and made his dissertation such a pleasure to read. The latter was crucial, as his dissertation was easily the lengthiest I’ve directed. It was also, however, the most thoroughly researched and well-written, and the first I’ve nominated for an award in my 18 years of chairing doctoral committees.”
“It is much like a parent’s view of his or her own child. We always view our own children as beautiful – whether they actually are or not. Strangers, however, would not be inclined to heap praise on an ugly child. When you are close to your own work, it’s natural for you and your dissertation committee to feel positively about it – to think it is special because, frankly, it’s your work. It is an entirely different matter when strangers view your research as being excellent. It lends credence to what you have done,” Owston stated of the award. He also equated these honors as being the Oscars, Grammys, and Emmys of graduate education.
Because of the award, Dr. Owston was also honored during Marshall University’s 171st Commencement Ceremony on May 10, 2008 in Huntington. Owston was one of ten graduates specially recognized by President Stephen J. Kopp during the ceremony and the only one of 21 doctoral graduates from 2007 and 2008 so honored. Owston was a December 2007 graduate. In addition to the AAUA award, Dr. Owston has been nominated for three additional outstanding dissertation awards. The finalists for each will be announced later in the year.