From graduate to dean after receiving doctoral degree
Story by Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
When the dean of Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., resigned in the fall of 2014, Associate Dean Levi Esses wanted to become the new dean of students for his alma mater. But one thing stood in his way: He didn’t have his doctoral degree.
It encouraged Esses to start thinking about taking that next step in his education, which led him to Grand Canyon University.
“I went on Facebook and I was searching doctoral degrees online and I got on Facebook one day. GCU’s ad popped up about online doctoral programs,” Esses said. “So, I did a quick inquiry, and within five minutes, I got a phone call.”
Esses was taken aback when he realized just how impressive the whole enrollment experience was for him.
“That kind of locked me in — that response time and that attention to detail, that willingness to help me out, so I applied either that day or the next day and was admitted into the program and it was great.”
For 4 1/2 years, Esses would work on his doctoral program while also accepting positions at Newman University as the dean of students in 2015, and Kansas State University as the associate director of new student services in 2018. But Esses had his eye on something bigger.
In late April, he came to GCU to walk across the commencement stage and accepted his diploma for his Doctor of Education and Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Higher Education Leadership degree, an achievement that would help Esses land the job he is set to start in June.
Esses accepted a position to become the new dean of students at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md.
“God had a plan, honestly. It all happened, I think, largely in part to my doctoral degree — that I had it finished — along with my experience in higher education,” Esses said.
It was a doctoral program that Esses said was a challenge but an experience that GCU made workable for him.
“I think GCU has really designed the program, really step by step, to help learners to be successful,” he said. “I just feel very connected to GCU, and you wouldn’t expect that in an online program.”
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or firstname.lastname@example.org.