Belk College of Business Celebrates Inaugural Doctorate in Business Administration Graduates

Doctorate in Business Administration Class of 2020
Friday, May 15, 2020
UNC Charlotte Doctorate in Business Administration program awards its first degrees.

The first class of Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) graduates from UNC Charlotte’s Belk College of Business have reached a significant milestone. The 16 graduates in the first AACSB-accredited DBA program in the Carolinas completed a rigorous academic program, capped by dissertations, as part of Spring Commencement 2020.


“In completing their DBA degrees, these scholars have not only elevated their own credentials, but they are bringing distinction to the Belk College of Business,” said Jennifer Troyer, Ph.D., who recently was appointed dean of the Belk College.

Dr. Reginald Silver, clinical professor of Business Information Systems and Operations Management, is the DBA program director. He recruited the first cohort of DBA scholars, which proved to be an elite group.

“Each cohort develops itself into a tight-knit, diverse group of self-sustaining thought leaders,” Silver said. “The success of this first cohort lies within their internal drive and self-motivation, both as individuals and a cohesive team. They faced challenges; however, their collective, interdisciplinary approach to solutions was innovative and inspiring.”

This year’s first class of DBA graduates represent a number of industries, including higher education, real estate, finance and manufacturing:

  • Katrice Branner, clinical assistant professor, Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina at Columbia, “Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises’ Customer Relationship Management Processes Impact on Firm Performance Moderated by Entrepreneurial Orientation”
  • Suzanne Collins, lead program manager, TIAA, and adjunct faculty, UNC Charlotte, “Social Dialogic Listening: Connecting Marketing Activity to Strategy”
  • Sherry Fowler, professor of the practice and director of the Business Analytics Honors Program, North Carolina State University Poole College of Management, “Use of Gang Member Social Media Postings to Detect Violent Crime”
  • Andrew Fraher, independent consultant, “Economic and Political Uncertainty and the Effects of Organizational Integration, Volume Flexibility, and Redundancy on Reliability and Delivery for Water Utilities”
  • John Gory, senior ROTC military science instructor, Golden Key Group LLC, “The Effects of Veteran Identity Strain, PTSD, and Social Support on Veterans' Job Satisfaction”
  • Lawrence Haynes, board, Illumination Foundation, “The Proposal's Forgotten Effect on Project Risk and Performance”
  • Barbara Knight, owner, Knight Property Management, “Green or Greenwashed? Organizational Strain as an Antecedent to Decoupling in Corporate Environmental Sustainability Reporting”
  • Sharon Lewis, principal and director, Booz Allen Hamilton, “Does Organizational Technology Acceptance Moderate Job Satisfaction and Turnover Intentions?” 
  • Kellie McCorvey, structural planning and administration, Wells Fargo, “Do Ethics Matter? A Moderated Model For Effects of Ethical Climates on Unethical Behavior in Organizations”
  • D. Blaine Nashold Jr., director, enterprise transformation, Grant Thornton, “Trust in Consumer Adoption of Artificial Intelligence-Driven Virtual Finance Assistants: A Technology Acceptance Model Perspective”
  • Samantha Reeves, director of learning and development, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, “Employee Referrals: A Competitive Advantage or Operational Inefficiency?’
  • Lisa Rolan, adjunct faculty, UNC Charlotte and Pfeiffer University, “Commitment, Trust, Kinship – Building a Legacy Through Succession Planning”
  • Adriana Ruiz, strategic account manager, Sealed Air Corporation, “The Influence of Socialization, Family and Sex on Newcomer Outcomes in a Dirty Work Context”
  • Al Turovlin, managing director, TurovlinPartners Consulting, Does Increased Information Technology Capability Increase the Business Value of Information Technology?
  • Ben Wilhelm, executive, vice president/COO, McFarland Construction U.S.;  managing partner, Unscripted, LLC;  adjunct faculty McColl School of Business, Queens University, “I am an Owner Now, So What? The Influence of Employee Share Ownership on Organizational Citizenship and Entrepreneurial Orientation”
  • Brad Williams, director, risk analysis executive - Wholesale Risk Analytics, Bank of American Merrill Lynch, “The Role of Complexity Within Intelligent Decision Aids on User Reliance: An Extension of the Theory of Technology Dominance

UNC Charlotte DBA Class of 2020 Profile

DBA Class of 2020 at a glance

The Rigor of the Belk College DBA

All DBA programs are not created equally. UNC Charlotte’s DBA requires intense research and analysis culminating in a dissertation, a component not all programs require. This dissertation requirement is just one factor that elevates the Belk College DBA above similar programs. During their third and final year of the program, DBA candidates developed theoretical and practical contributions in their chosen field, designing and conducting primary research, analyzing the findings, then defending their dissertation before a faculty committee. Through this process, these scholars created new knowledge, each firmly establishing themselves as an authority in their distinct field. 

“The Belk College respects and recognizes each of these professional doctors as an expert in their area of research, and so much more,” said Dr. Franz Kellermanns, Belk College DBA academic director and Addison H. and Gertrude C. Reese Endowed Chair in International Business and Professor of Management. “The multidimensional complexities of a DBA, especially for this inaugural cohort, set a slightly intimidating goal upon the outset three years ago. But now, having earned the leadership skills, plus the additional research perspective, these graduates will be able to contribute even more to the business community through substantial impact.”

The Benefits of Obtaining a DBA

The structure of the Belk College DBA presents each candidate with the opportunity of layered learning and prepares scholars for tomorrow’s dynamic business challenges and disruptive advancements. Formal course studies are further augmented by the many perspectives of all class members. For example, the program faculty report that the inaugural cohort routinely contributed live examples and industry insight, helping all students to more deeply appreciate each discussion.

Another benefit of the Belk College DBA is the executive program format, which provides the structure and support of traditional class meetings one weekend per month without the full-time requirement of many other DBA programs.  

“Most of our scholars, including this inaugural cohort, maintain their professional roles while in the program, noting the promise of career continuity as a defining convenience that helped them select our program over others,” Silver said.

DBA Regalia

While this cohort is unable to physically participate in a formal ceremony due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines, graduates can still take pride in their regalia. 

UNC Charlotte DBA Regalia

Regalia details were chosen based on the American Academic Costume Code (AACC),  established in 1895 to standardize regalia. Historically, the origins of academic dress dates to the 12th century.

Advanced degree hoods are distinguished by color to denote the degree earned. Degrees in the business disciplines are designated by the color “drab,” a word with origins in the European Middle Ages. At that time, the term originally referred to textiles and the trade of cloth, but later evolved to mean the color of light brown. In 1895, the AACC assigned the color “drab” to the field of business, possibly referring to the significance of cloth in historical commerce.  

Graduates Comment on Dissertation Completion

Dr. Katrice Branner’s dissertation is titled, “Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises’ (SME) Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Processes Impact on SME Firm Performance Moderated by Entrepreneurial Orientation.”

Dr. Katrice Branner

Dr. Katrice Branner, DBA Class of 2020

Dr. Katrice Branner

Dr. Katrice Branner in regalia

Branner, who researched how CRM maintenance processes can be a sustained source of competitive advantage for small and medium-sized companies, will be joining the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina as a clinical assistant professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management.

Dr. John Gory’s dissertation was “The Effects of Veteran Identity Strain (Vet-IS), PTSD and Perceived Social Support on Veterans’ Job Satisfaction.” This research explores the association between veteran identity strain (“Vet-IS”) and job satisfaction, and how these levels may be influenced by perceived social support and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Dr. John Gory

Dr. John Gory, DBA Class of 2020

Dr. John Gory and Belk College faculty

Dr. John Gory with family and members of the DBA faculty

“The results of the survey supported my overall research study and objectives and will make a contribution to the body of knowledge,” Gory said. “There’s nothing more noble than being an ‘American soldier,’ serving a cause bigger than thyself; there’s nothing more gratifying than joining a chosen profession by becoming a doctor.”

About AACSB Accreditation

AACSBIn 2017, the UNC Charlotte DBA program began as the first AACSB-accredited DBA program in the Carolinas. As the first DBA with this designation in North and South Carolina, the Belk College of Business raised the bar for business academia across the Carolinas. The AACSB accreditation is internationally recognized as the key indicator of quality assurance with the higher purpose of contributing to the future success of business.