Executive Ed.D. Cohort Profile

Summer 2021

Note: The GRE was waived for 2021-2022 academic year.




Mean GPA



Linda Battles

Photo of Linda BattlesRegional Vice President for Western Governors University (WGU-South Region) and Chancellor of WGU Texas

The University of Texas at Austin's Executive Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership Program was my first and only choice. I am a two-time graduate of UT, having earned my bachelor's degree in psychology and master's degree in public affairs. I have loved this university since I first visited the campus as a high school junior. In my high school senior yearbook, I was quoted, "I plan to go to UT Austin because it offers a quality education, and that's important to me."

I first heard about the executive Ed.D. program in 2019 when Dr. Victor Saenz invited me as a guest speaker to talk about higher education policy and the legislative process. For me, the most appealing aspect of the program is the embedded competencies of social justice, inclusion, and equity. I also like that the curriculum is practitioner-focused, offers a flexible schedule for working students, and is designed for completion in 30-36 months.

My research interests include expanding access and success in higher education, particularly for underserved populations. I am a strong advocate for high-quality, online competency-based education as a viable pathway to higher education, especially for adult learners who do not have the time or resources to attend a traditional brick-and-mortar institution.

Corey Benson

Photo of Corey BensonDean of Students, University of Texas Permian Basin

Several years ago, Dr. Gage Paine gave me the advice, "There is no map. Turn toward challenge." A few years before that conversation, I heard her tell a crowd at a seminar, "Think of challenges not as insurmountable barriers, but as the moments of our greatest creativity." Applying to this program is my next turn toward the challenge, and, I hope, will enable me to embark on the moments of my own greatest creativity. Through the coursework and research as part of this program, I hope to become better prepared to serve as a senior student affairs officer.

I earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy studies (2013) from The University of Texas at San Antonio, and a bachelor’s degree in communication (2011) from University of Houston-Clear Lake. My research focuses on the prevention and response to sexual misconduct on college campuses and institutional betrayal trauma.

Ramon Blakley

Photo of Ramon BlakleyDirector of Recruitment in the Office of Admissions at the University of Texas at Austin

When I accepted my position at UT Austin, I promised myself that I would begin pursuing a terminal degree once settled. The reality is that I had made that same promise to myself for over 18 years following the completion of my master’s degree and never took action. However, the intersection of the global pandemic and the uniqueness of UT Austin Executive Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership Program made this the right moment for me. This program is a family, and it is truly built for individuals like myself who have tremendous responsibilities both at work and home.

This is the first time I have had the cohort experience, and I can’t say enough about its benefits to my success. Having this family of students who share my experiences and build me up throughout the program is one of the most significant components of this program. The other characteristic that stands out is our faculty; I have found my faculty to be extended family members. They genuinely care about my success and are willing to spend the time to talk through the concepts and theories they teach. They are not just a sage on the stage, but instead, they are in the experience with me, the student. 

My personal goals are to continue to walk in my purpose of providing higher education opportunities and promise to students, emphasizing those historically marginalized in our society. My general interests involve the use of theoretical frameworks within the recruitment of African American males.

Ben Gibbs

Photo of Ben GibbsSpecial Assistant to the President, University of Dallas

I was initially interested in the Executive Ed.D. at the University of Texas at Austin because it is highly ranked and the program has an accelerated timeframe. As a current student, I appreciate these attributes, but I am persisting in the program and progressing academically because of the strength of the faculty and the support of my peers. I love the cohort model, and my peers are a constant source of motivation and balance. Moreover, the faculty are true scholar-practitioners who are both excellent educators and leaders in higher education, and also constantly willing to support students on an individual level. I have been blown away by their dedication to me and to this program. 

My research interests deal primarily with presidential leadership, and I hope my research contributes to the growing conversation on higher education leadership in our ever-changing world. My research and coursework have certainly already informed my professional practice! I am not sure what the future holds for me career-wise, I would love to become a university leader, and I remain convinced that this program, with its students and faculty, can push me in the right direction. 

Heather Rhodes

Photo of Heather RhodesDean of Business and Technology, San Jacinto College North

I decided to pursue a doctorate at the University of Texas – Austin because the cohort model and accelerated curriculum were extraordinarily attractive and met my personal and professional needs. The faculty is supportive and engaging. I am thrilled with the program and can apply what I learn to my work environment. In addition, my fellow cohort members bring a great diversity of the job and personal experiences and learning from each other makes this program extraordinarily rich and rewarding. I am not sure what is next for me, but a doctorate has been my goal for over fifteen years, and I am thrilled to have the chance to earn it from such a great institution.

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