Marine Instructor Enjoys Environment of GCU’s Doctoral Residency

August 06, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

By Cooper Nelson
GCU News Bureau

Anissa Villegas, residency coordinator for GCU’s College of Doctoral Studies, calls the weeklong doctoral residency “intense.”

“Intense” is not the word 42-year-old Marine officer instructor Maj. Jackie Schiller II would use.

Schiller arrived in Phoenix on Monday to complete his second doctoral residency for his Ed.D with an emphasis in educational leadership. After multiple tours in the Middle East, including Operation Iraqi Freedom, and involvement in rescuing the Magellan Star, a German merchant vessel that was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2010 off the coast of Yemen, he sees the residency as an opportunity to grow.

Doctoral learner Maj. Jackie Schiller II, in Phoenix this week to complete his second doctoral residency.

Doctoral learner Maj. Jackie Schiller II, in Phoenix this week to complete his second doctoral residency.

Schiller said that learning the dissertation process is invaluable, but for him the most exciting aspect is the environment.

“Rubbing elbows with students and teachers and meeting some of the faculty that I have built relationships with is the best thing (about the residency),” said Schiller, a 22-year active-duty Marine, who teaches amphibious warfare, the evolution of warfare, and leadership and ethics at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., where he is stationed.

Schiller joined nearly 240 doctoral students for this week’s Residency at the Pointe Hilton at Squaw Peak Resort in north Phoenix. The residency is one of two required throughout the course of the Ed.D, Ph.D and D.B.A. programs. Students use the time to develop and build research skills and align their dissertations.

The Aug. 5-9 residency is the last one of the summer, following five held from April to June. GCU expects 1,200 doctoral learners for the year. The final residency for 2013 is in November.

Schiller earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of New Mexico in 1999 and a master’s in science and leadership from GCU in 2007. He sought a Christian Institution to obtain a doctorate in leadership and began attending Regent University in Virginia.

He said GCU’s doctoral program always was on his radar, and he transferred to the University a short time later.

“I wanted a Ph.D in leadership and GCU’s Ed.D with a focus in education leadership was close to what I wanted,” Schiller said. “After six months at Regent, I got to compare that doctoral program to GCU, and I love GCU.”

Schiller said he plans to retire from the Marines next year and hopes to use his Ed.D to teach business leadership ethics at the University of Texas in Austin, which he calls home. He said his doctorate from GCU will help him reach that goal.

“I need a doctoral degree to teach at the university level, especially to master’s students, so without it I was kind of hopeless at first,” he said.

“The doctoral journey has refined me in what I’m passionate about regarding leadership, moral potency and willpower, and it’s a validation of the journey and makes me sort of an expert in my field.”

Contact Cooper Nelson at 639.7511 or

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