Before he came to Illinois State, Gregory Robinson, Ph.D. ’19, had over two decades of experience at the community college level. His path included serving as a professional counselor, associate professor and dean of student services at the City Colleges of Chicago. He later served as the dean of student services and development at Elgin Community College (ECC).

In 2018, Robinson was promoted to assistant vice president of student services and development and the dean of students at ECC. About a year later, he graduated with his Ph.D. in higher education administration from the Department of Educational Administration and Foundations (EAF) at Illinois State University.

Robinson appreciated his time in EAF so much that he now gives back to the department as a member of its advisory board.

Why do you believe this program is a good choice for higher education professionals?
I firmly believe the program provides entry-level and seasoned educators with the theoretical foundation and hands-on learning opportunities that can be applied to address real situations and issues. Additionally, the program helps students to build confidence in their scholarly writing and research skills and their ability to be successful as a higher education professional.

How do you think the schedule and demands of the program helped you to balance work, family, and academic obligations?
The weekend cohort structure and hybrid course delivery modality allowed me to complete many projects and assignments online, thereby offering the flexibility required for working professionals and those with other obligations. Nonetheless, it was imperative that I effectively managed my time considering the number of reading and writing assignments required and the academic rigor of the program. A high level of commitment to the program was needed to meet program expectations while balancing other commitments. In essence, the program and course work are designed to ensure student success as long as students are willing to devote the expected time and energy required at the doctoral level.

How do you believe the program helped to widen your network?
Not only did the program increase my professional network through the development of relationships with fellow cohort members and professors but also by being exposed to other higher education professionals. Some of the courses provided us with the opportunity to meet college and university presidents, researchers, and higher education executive search firm consultants. I was able to connect with some of these individuals about my research as well as my desire to eventually become a consultant with a higher education search firm. Furthermore, I was encouraged and supported by my advisor and the department chair to present my research at the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Conference in 2016, which enabled me to establish and maintain relationships with other academic scholars.

How did the program help to develop your skills?
Illinois State professors supported my development by challenging me to think outside of the box and focus on new mental models that support all students when designing or revising services and programs. Professors consistently reinforced how the changing and diverse demographics of college students warrant transformational and equitable solutions to help students achieve their academic and personal goals. I have used this knowledge to assist with the implementation of initiatives and move the needle on discussions about how equity, diversity, and inclusion contribute to the success of all students, which is an essential competency for higher education professionals. The authentic and constructive feedback provided by the professors also helped me to deepen my understanding of my potential as a leader and academic scholar.

What’s one of your favorite parts of the program?
I appreciated developing a deeper understanding of and enhancing my skills involving the assessment process. I have employed the knowledge and skills to implement continuous assessment of services and programs, including the development of student learning outcomes, within the Division of Student Services and Development at my college. Moreover, I have used this information to justify the funding of specific services and presented these findings during the college’s annual assessment event. Consequently, the Educational Evaluation and Assessment course contributed to my ability to focus on continuous improvement through the assessment process by putting into practice what I learned.