Students plan, lead and listen at annual colloquium

A student listens intently to a presentation during the Kevin McClean Research Colloquium on Wednesday at the Colangelo College of Business Building.

Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau

The fifth annual Kevin McClean Research Colloquium is a celebration of sorts.

On Wednesday, organizers celebrated having presenters and attendees back in a Colangelo College of Business (CCOB) classroom after the event had to be conducted via Zoom last year because of the pandemic.

Student organizers (from left) Daniel Griffin, Delia Van Heukelem and Jacob Haller planned and organized the colloquium.

It also was a celebration of student involvement. Three members of Grand Canyon University’s Eta Chi chapter of Delta Mu Delta, the international business honor society – Vice President Jacob Haller, Secretary/Treasurer Delia Van Heukelem and member-at-large Daniel Griffin – planned the event and did everything Wednesday, from introducing presenters to timing them.

Two other students helped, as well: Connor Hess was the communications coordinator and created the 12-page program, and Kyle Reimer was a speaker on Day 2.

The faculty representatives who guide the chapter – advisor Dr. Moronke Oke, co-advisor Dr. Helen Hammond and supporting faculty Dr. Merri Pedersen and Dr. Henry Cooper – spoke up only when needed.

“People want the opportunity to plan everything from beginning to end and own it,” Oke said.

The students also were in charge of connecting the colloquium’s originator, Dr. Kevin McClean, via Zoom from his home in New York. He reminded the audience that he chose the “colloquium” title because the word equates with “conversation,” and the in-person experience Wednesday certainly added to that conversation when attendees were invited to ask questions at the end of each presentation.

Remilyn Mueller

Presenters were given the option of speaking in person Wednesday or via Zoom on Thursday. Seven chose the in-person route Wednesday – here’s what they shared:


“Correlation between Flourishing and Technological Readiness of Doctoral Learners”

The Online Full-Time Faculty member’s goal is to complete a quantitative and qualitative study of doctoral learners across the U.S.

Lee Thai


“The Problem of Evil Can Be Resolved by the Concept of God’s ‘Tough Love’”

The adjunct professor at Arizona Christian University shot down William Rowe’s “Evidential Argument from Evil,” which suggests that the presence of evil supports the claim that God does not exist. Thai cited Psalm 14:1, Romans 1:28, Romans 8:22 and Romans 8:21 to demonstrate that God and evil exist together. 


“Barriers to Implementation of Problem-Based Learning in Online Undergraduate Instruction”

The College of Education’s faculty chair is studying barriers perceived by engineering students at higher-learning institutions in the U.S. Southwest.

Dr. Alicia Kozimor


“The Role of Residential Real Estate Investment in the Economic Development of the Northeast Region of the United States”

The assistant professor of economics is studying 434 counties from Maine to Virginia to gauge the relationship between residential real estate development and population, income and employment.


“Assessing Minority High School Student Choice of College Major”

Dr. Praveena Jayaraman

Seeks to find out why there is so little diversity in the accounting profession (more details below).


“Broad-Spectrum Antibacterial Activity Discovered in Desert Plants”

Another turn of the wheel in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology’s continuing study of antibacterial activity in desert plants. Denzler is an associate professor in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology, Cronkrite graduated from GCU last year with her degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, and Worner is a current student working toward the same degree. Another recent GCU grad, Natalie Elliot, also is assisting in the study.

Typical of the presentations was the focus on making a difference in the world. That is particularly true in the case of the study by Damron, a CCOB accounting professor who enlisted the help of Lopezlira, her former colleague who now teaches at another university.

Karen Denzler, Monica Cronkrite and Kailey Worner

Her quest began thanks to her work as a board member of the Arizona Society of CPAs (ASCPA). During a meeting last year, they broke into smaller groups to discuss possible board candidates and were focused on diversity of types of CPAs – public accounting, nonprofit, government, industry, etc.

That’s when Damron spoke up.

“I told the group that maybe our diversity focus shouldn’t just include types of CPAs, but we should also consider ethnicity/race as well,” she said, noting that at the time the ASCPA board had only one Black member. “As we discussed considering Black or minority CPAs to join the board, a comment was made that there were not many members to choose from since the number of minority/Black CPAs was so small.

“We continued the conversation and we all agreed that the problem may be that high school students (mainly minority) may not be aware of the opportunities an accounting profession could provide – and hence my idea for the study.”

Dr. Kelly Damron

Damron noted that the goal isn’t just to diversify the board. Its members also want to incorporate more diversity into their workplaces.

“If we have more diverse accounts, we should have a more diverse profession,” she said.

Damron has received a vast amount of restricted data sets from the U.S. Department of Education analyzing ethnicity, race, sex, household income, economic attainment, etc. With Lopezlira’s analytical help, she hopes to finish this summer.

The colloquium organizers also want to apply that spirit of inclusiveness to their event. “I think the biggest thing is that we want the whole University involved, both presenters and attendees,” Hammond said.

To that end, Thursday’s two online sessions cover another wide variety of topics:

Session 1 (3-4:10 p.m.)


“Students’ Perception of the Value of Instructor Feedback to Online Discussion Forums”

The doctoral learner surveyed 4,086 students and 346 faculty members, asking 14 questions about discussion forum preferences. "Faculty set the tone in their classrooms for what they do and how they do it," he said.


“COVID Chronicles: Servant Leader Faculty Chairs Empowering Faculty during a Crisis”

Their research focused on three key constructs: servant leadership, flourishing and self-empowerment. They discovered that servant leadership from the faculty chair might play a more important role for Online Full-Time Faculty than traditional faculty. 


“Education, History and American Politics”

The College of Education faculty member found that artificial intelligence should be included in the curriculum, with students as part of the collaborative and decision-making process; school communities beyond the classroom should be created; and technology in the hands of teachers could be transformational.


“Development of a Continuous Insulin Sensor for Improved Diabetes Management Using Single-Chain Antibody and Nondestructive Electromechanical Impedance Measurement”

Most tests for people with diabetes look at insulin levels; their research looked into developing a glucose test.

Session 2 (4:20-5:30 p.m.)


“How the United States Advertising Agencies’ Perceived Client Involvement Influences the Process of Developing Advertising Creativity”

Her research seeks to understand why some ad agencies get clients involved while others ask them what they want and then don't show the product to them until it's created.


“Structural Empowerment of Faculty Teaching in Higher Education”

Both are in the College of Education, Sprute as a faculty chair and McCabe as a member of the Online Full-Time Faculty. Their proposed study seeks to prevent faculty turnover.


“Pre-Service Teacher Experience with Virtual Instruction”

They sought to understand why students struggled to apply to online teaching their program knowledge aligned with in-person teaching. They found that many teacher-preparation programs lack the guidance and practice with technology tools and instructional strategies needed for the online classroom.


“How to Use Teach-Outs to Bolster Pre-Service Teachers’ Content/Subject Matter Knowledge"

The adjunct professor interviewed 11 participants and found that they tend to limit lessons to topics in which they are proficient. The recommendation: Assign pre-service teachers unfamiliar content topics.


“Prairie Passages”

Presented his essay on uncommon ground anthology and the importance of prairie burning. "The prairie ecosystem thrives on fire," he said.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].


Related content:

GCU Today: Students' plant knowledge sprouts at colloquium

GCU Today: Colloquium proves educational for faculty, students


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