Dr. Mark Walcott, ’02, M.S. ’07, Ph.D. ’15, is the embodiment of servant leadership and lifelong learning.

Throughout his career, he has given his time to his community, and has been recognized as the United Way of America and the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington volunteer of the year.

While boosting Illinois State University’s data and systems technology during a 13-year period, he earned two advanced degrees, including his Ph.D. in higher education administration from the Department of Educational Administration and Foundations (EAF).

Immediately following his graduation, Walcott was tapped to be the University of Houston’s director of information technology and reporting. After two years in this role, he was recruited to serve as the director of business intelligence for the University of California, Davis. The University of Houston was eager to get Walcott back, hiring him to be its new executive director of advancement systems in 2018.

He provided the following insight and advice about his journey through EAF’s higher administration Ph.D. program.

How do you believe the experience in the program helped to prepare you for leadership roles in higher education?
I believe the experience helped me by exposing me to a multitude of different professional experiences as it related to topics of higher education. The varied perspectives gave me a lens into how topics such as funding, curriculum, etc. affect different constituencies in higher education. Coming from a computer science background, this program taught me the equivalent of design patterns in software development that provide algorithms to solve many of the technical problems we’ll encounter creating software solutions. The higher education program focus on theoretical perspectives in conjunction with the cohort model gave me the same types of algorithms/experience for resolving complex leadership issues in higher education.

How would you rate the flexibility of the program from the perspective of a student?
The flexibility of the program to complete my course work was paramount in my ability to complete my Ph.D. The academic plan and mentorship throughout the program were critical to my success. It allowed me to thrive professionally, while still gaining a deeply enriching Ph.D. experience.

Why would you recommend the program to aspiring leaders in higher education?
I’d recommend the program to those seeking to continue their training and education in higher education for a single reason. The program felt designed to appeal and motivate those passionate about expanding the theoretical and applied knowledge of higher education. Thus, being surrounded by individuals that would challenge my assumptions and dare me to do more was the perfect environment for me.