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Saint Leo 360 Podcast

Episode 28: Discussing Saint Leo’s Doctor of Business Administration with Dr. Dale Mancini

Posted by Greg Lindberg on February 2, 2021
SL360-Ep-27-International-Students-in-Grad-Programs

Download Episode 28 Transcript

Speaker 1:
Saint Leo 360, a 360 degree overview of the Saint Leo University community.

Greg Lindberg:
Hi there. Welcome to another episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast. This is your host, Greg Lindbergh. On this episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, we are speaking about the Doctor of Business Administration program here at Saint Leo University. And to help us do that, we have a great guest with us here. His name is Dr. Dale Mancini. Dr. Mancini is the director of the DBA program here at Saint Leo. Dr. Mancini, welcome to the podcast.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Thank you, Greg. Thank you for inviting me. I'm looking forward to our discussion today.

Greg Lindberg:
Definitely. We certainly have plenty to talk about. I did want to mention, this is one of three doctoral degrees that Saint Leo University currently offers. We have this DBA program along with the Doctor of Education and the Doctor of Criminal Justice. All right. As far as the DBA, first off, Dr. Mancini, let's just start off with a brief bio about yourself, just explain to the listeners, introduce yourself, and your background and how you came to Saint Leo.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Sure. Thank you. Greg, it was an interesting path as to how I got here. I started out my career actually with General Motors in Detroit, Michigan. I worked at GM for 30 years. And while I was at GM, I took advantage of their tuition assistance program and decided that I wanted to get an education, especially if they were willing to pay for it. I did my bachelor's degree. Went on to get my master's degree and then finished up with my doctorate, all that while I was working full-time at GM. I stayed pretty busy. And after I received my doctorate, I started teaching part-time at some local universities around the Detroit area.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
And back then, online was really just getting going. Wasn't really as popular as it is today. But I did manage to start teaching online for a university and segued into... Transitioning out of GM when I hit my 30-year mark at GM, I was in a position that I could take my full retirement from GM. But at the time being 52 years old, I still had to do what I... And I still had to do something. And really, teaching, I discovered was really my passion, my calling. I feel really fortunate that... A lot of people, I think, go through life and they really don't know what they should be doing, or they don't really think about, "What is my passion?" I've been fortunate enough to discover that what I'm doing today is really my passion and it's really what I wanted to.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
I did this for several years working full-time for another university. And that university, eventually in 2008, they closed their doors, they went bankrupt. And so I found myself out of a job. The power of networking, I have to tell you... I got a call from one of my former students, I was actually his dissertation chair, and he said, "Hey, I have some information on a university down in Florida, Saint Leo University. They're looking for a DBA director. Dr. Mancini, this job has your name all over it." I went to the website. I looked at the job and I was like, "Wow, this is exactly what I've been hardwired to do." I applied, went through the process, one thing led to another, got the job, and here I am. I moved from my home in Detroit down here to Florida. I'm getting to, for the first time in my life, go outside in January without a jacket on and it's...

Greg Lindberg:
Oh yeah, can't beat that. Yep. Wow. Definitely an interesting background. It is funny how life has twists and turns and you never know where you might end up.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Well, yeah, Greg. You know it's funny because it's really an example of people sometimes don't really think about networking and how powerful networking can be sometimes. I'm here because I was networking and somebody thought of me and that's what led me here.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. Very interesting. In terms of the DBA program, talk to me about the history of the program and the reasons that Saint Leo University decided to offer such a doctoral terminal degree program.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Sure. The program actually just celebrated its seven-year mark, started in 2013, again, well before my time. We hit the seven-year mark, which is... Seven years is the significance of that being that seven years is really about the limit a student has from beginning to end to complete the program. We're up to cohort 20 now. Cohort one, we can officially close the books on cohort one. They're done. It's been around for seven years. The founding fathers, so to speak, I really don't know what the vision was in terms of what do they expect this to be. I don't want to really talk about what that vision was back then because I might be misspeaking about that.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
I'd really like to focus on what my vision is since I took over a year and a half ago. The DBA degree is really a... We like to think of it as a scholar practitioner. In other words, as a student, you're going to get the scholarly piece of this. You're going to do the research, you're going to write, again, read, write research, write, read research. It's that circle of... Think about a circle. You read something, you research it, you write about it, and you read some more. That's a scholarly way to approach this. But in addition to that, Greg, we're looking at the practitioner piece of this. How can you take your degree and use it in the work world? How do you do that?

Dr. Dale Mancini:
What I want to do is kind of... I talk to students all the time and somebody will critique a journal article and they'll write about it. And they'll say, "The author said X, Y, and Z, and the author said this, and the author said that." Well, my response to the student is, "Okay. Tell me how this relates to you. How do you use what you've just read in a real-world application?" My objective is to always bring in the practitioner piece in everything we do in this program.

Greg Lindberg:
Got you. Let's dive into the admission requirements for this DBA program and what must one have in order to be admitted and to be able to enroll in this program.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Sure. They have to have a master's degree, number one, preferably an MBA. But we do take students outside of business. We're looking for students that have a graduate GPA of nothing lower than a 3.25 GPA. Our application process includes a writing sample, where students will write about why they think it's important, why they want a DBA, what do they plan to do, what is their long-term vision, and why are they doing this? Well, I am interested in this. But what we're really looking at when we read those writing samples is we're evaluating, can the student write? Because this degree really has a pretty heavy writing element to it. You have to be able to write, you have to be able to put a coherent sentence together.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
When I get the application package, I look at their transcripts, I look at their writing sample, and also their resume. They also have to have two letters of recommendation. And so I get that entire package and I review that package. And then the final step in this process is setting up a phone interview with a potential student. I personally interview every single student coming into this program. That is a process that I... before I got here, they did it as a committee, three people involved. One would read the application and other one would talk to the student.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
One of the things I learned probably in my 30 years at General Motors when it comes to the process, if everybody owns it, nobody owns it. I've taken ownership of this process. I personally interview every student coming into this program. The things I'm looking for are, what do you... it's really important to me what a student wants to do with... Why are you doing this? Why are you going after this degree? If a student says to me, "Well, I don't know. It's because it's something I always wanted to do," I'm a little hesitant about accepting them into this program as opposed to somebody saying, "I want to take this degree. I want to see how the theories and applications, how I can make those connections, how I can use this degree in my profession, how I can use this in my job." Now, you have my attention. Now, I'm really listening to you. I look at that, again, because I tie everything back into this is a scholar practitioner degree.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Students will ask me, "Why should I get a DBA instead of a PhD?" The difference really is I tell students... My first question back to them is, "What do you want to do? Do you want to be a researcher? Do you want to sit in a university setting and do research and publish and really basically that as your career? Then go get a PhD. If you want a terminal degree, which is... A terminal degree is a doctoral degree. If you want to take your degree and apply it in a real-world application, in a business setting, then maybe you need to think about a DBA, a Doctor of Business Administration." I try to help students. I don't want students coming into this program thinking that it's a PhD because I guess students sometimes get confused with that. I try to lay out that scenario for them to help them understand. Ultimately, I put it back on the student, "What do you really want to do with this degree?"

Greg Lindberg:
Sure. I think that really speaks to Saint Leo University in general. We're such a practitioner-focused institution. I feel like that's a huge selling point and really makes us unique in those really specifically practitioner-based programs.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Yes, yes. I agree, Greg, and it's where I think we need to stand out and say, "Look, this is a rigorous program. You're going to have to write a dissertation, you're going to have to research, you're going to have to do all of these coursework." But we're also tying it back into how can I... Keyword is practitioner, how can I take this degree and get a better job, make more money, do what I want to do in life? How do we do that? How do we help? It's really falls back on me to help students make those connections. Take this theoretical framework that you're reading and tell me how do you tie that back into a practical application.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Nothing excites me more when a student says to me, "Dr. Mancini, the lecture we had last week about conflict resolution, I had a conflict at work the other day and I did what we talked about and it worked." And it's like, "Okay, now I know." This is when I can say, "I'm doing my job." This is really what would it boils down to, Greg, is taking these ideas, these concepts, and tying them back in to real-world application.

Greg Lindberg:
Exactly. That's got to be so rewarding when you do get that feedback. And once again, just the practitioner, the practical experience of this curriculum versus something that's theoretical and a lot more reading-based and whatnot. That's great to hear. I know you've spoken a little bit already about the types of students, but let's dive a little deeper into that. Talk to me about the demographics of the students that enter this program and just some of their backgrounds. I would imagine it's quite a variety that we get.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Greg, that's a great question. We have a variety of students. My goal is to take what we have now and make it even more diverse, getting more different backgrounds. We have people in industry, we have people in finance banking, we have students in marketing, we have students in the medical field. Students that are... they work in medical administration and they want to tie... Everything that people do, we can make that connection back into business. I have people in nonprofit, people in religious sectors. Whether you are running a church or you're running a multi-million dollar corporation, you still need to have a business sense, you still need to understand business. We try to make those connections with our students.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
The average student is basically a working adult. If I had to paint a picture of a typical DBA student, it would be somebody 30 to 50, married, children, working full-time, trying to advance in their career. One of the things we get a lot of... which says a lot about Saint Leo as an institution, I have a lot of students in the DBA program who get their MBA from Saint Leo. They come out of Saint Leo University with a master's in business administration and they roll right into the doctoral program here. They stay with us. High percentage of our students are Saint Leo grads. That really tells me something about the institution as a whole, that students go through their MBA with us and they are so impressed, so satisfied with that, they stay with us and they continue on to get their doctorate.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. That's great to hear. In terms of where this program is offered, talk to me about the delivery format. I understand it is primarily online, but there are some as far as face-to-face outside of a pandemic face-to-face components as well.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Yeah. COVID has definitely had an impact on everybody, but not as much on us because we are 100% online. Well, I say that 100% online, but the new cohorts coming in since the fall, we changed up the program a little bit to put a doctoral residency back into the program. They used to have it in and they took it out. I'm not really sure why they took it out. But when I took over, one of the first things I did was put the residency element back into it. I believe a doctoral residency is really important, especially in an online setting because 99% of the time, you don't get the face-to-face with anybody, your professors, everybody's online.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Residency element gives students an opportunity for four days. It's a four-day residency. We go from Monday to Thursday and it gives students an opportunity to come to the campus, get that campus feeling being on campus, being a part of something, meet with professors, talk to professors, talk about dissertation ideas. We have a plan, of course, for four days, we keep them pretty busy. And then immediately following the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we offer a colloquium, which again is a chance for students to come to campus.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
The colloquium is optional. We encourage all students to come to them, but you certainly don't have to. Throughout the day, we have several different workshops going on. Some of the faculty will present on different ideas, different topics. That's the layout of what we do. Now, again with COVID, our last residency in our last colloquium were virtual. We have another one coming up in March that's probably going to be virtual as well. But eventually we'll get back to meeting on campus and doing these residencies on campus.

Greg Lindberg:
I see. Very interesting.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
I tell students all the time, especially new ones coming in because this only... The residency is new. It only impacts the later cohorts coming in. Earlier cohorts... I'm not going to force them to come to our residency when they didn't sign up for that. Those cohorts are more or less grandfathered in. But the new cohorts, and I can tell you again from my experience in running residency programs with other universities, the number one complaint I get from students about residency, number one complaint, they complained to me that we don't do enough of them. They want more. It's interesting. And it's because, again, it's an online program. These students, for the majority of the time, they're really out there on their own. One they get their cohorts supporting them, but they don't get that face-to-face interaction with myself, with Donna Shea, who is our coordinator, or some of the faculty, they don't get that. They enjoy sitting in a classroom, they enjoy hearing a real-time lecture from a professor.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
One of the things I did, which made me think about this even more with COVID, I now have faculty teaching in the program, do a weekly live Zoom session. Every single faculty teaching in the DBA program is required to have a live session, one hour every week, and they choose the time, they choose the day. And for that one hour, they cover the content, the material that's being talked about in that week. That is really been very well-received by the students. I had my first one for my course last Tuesday. I have another one tonight. I think 12 of the 13 students showed up for it. It's been really well-received and I'm going to continue to do that, just to add a little touch of putting some personal footprint on their experiences. I want them to see faculty, I want them to have those real-time interview or real-time interactions with faculty. I think that's really important.

Greg Lindberg:
No question. Well said. I would imagine in addition to the connections the students get to make with the faculty in person, even just the student-to-student connections and friendships and everything has also got to be quite important and impactful as well.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
It is, Greg. Nothing makes me happier when a student is doing their final dissertation defense. We do them through Zoom and their fellow students show up and support them. It's really awesome. I love when that happens.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. Let's talk a little more about the actual curriculum. I know with the doctoral program, it's not quite as... Structure, maybe isn't the right word. But you think of a bachelor's program is four years traditionally, a master's two years, potentially one year in some cases. With this DBA program, talk to me about roughly how long this program takes students and also just the credit requirements for it.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
It's 59 credits including the dissertation. Generally speaking, if you do everything on schedule, it will take you about three years to finish it. Now, having said that, some students might go a little bit longer, some students might go a little less because the very last thing students do in this program, they take all their coursework and then they write the dissertation. Students will ask me, especially when they're starting dissertation, "How long is this going to take me?" And my answer to them is, "It'll take as long as you want it to take."

Dr. Dale Mancini:
A lot of students get very aggressive with getting the dissertation courses set up in four courses. They're one eight-week course and three 16-week courses, where if they do everything they're supposed to do by the time they get to that final course, they'll be done. But sometimes that doesn't always happen. There's a multitude of reasons why. But sometimes it doesn't happen and then we can put them in an extension course for them to finish the dissertation. And then there's other students who don't make it to... they only make it through three courses because they... It's really self-paced. They're able to finish it quicker because they make that decision to do that. The average student will be out of here in three years.

Greg Lindberg:
Oh, I see. I'm sure that is in a way having a little more flexibility, a little more leeway, if you want to call it, like you said, the self-paced type approach to an extent can be appealing to students who have the full-time jobs obviously, who have children, who have so many other obligations and maybe would feel a little pressured to be able to finish within the three years. I'm sure that does help in many ways. All right. As far as specific courses in the program, what are some specific courses students can expect when they enroll?

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Sure. To the courses we teach, one is a course in SPSS, which is a statistics package that students will need to understand SPSS if they're doing a quantitative study and they need to do the statistical piece of it. We also have a quantitative course that helps with that as well. But a couple of the courses that stick out in my mind are ironically the first course and the last course. It's 701, which just started last week with 26 students. DBA 701 really lays the groundwork for this program. We bring our students in and we start introducing them to the idea of research. They complete a small literature review by the time they're done with the course. They do an annotated bibliography and we have some discussion threads where we're asking them different things about dissertation topic ideas.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
But again, this is course number one, so we don't expect them to come out of this being scholars and being able to write a dissertation. But my intent with this is to... I'd rather them start because the dissertation is a very big piece of this program. You have to write a dissertation to graduate. It's a huge piece of this program. What I try to do is from day one, get them thinking about it, get them thinking about, "What is the topic? What am I really interested in researching?" Get them thinking about that.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Now, there's students that come from all walks of life. Some students will say, "Well, it would really be nice if you had an accounting major, or it really be nice if you had a marketing major, or it would really be nice if you had project management, or this, or this, or this, or this." It would be impossible to offer all these different fields. We just couldn't possibly do it. What I tell students is, "What is it you're really passionate about? Marketing? Is marketing something you really want to do? Then focus your dissertation on marketing, focus your dissertation on project management, focus your dissertation on economics, finance, accounting, whatever it is you feel you want to become an expert in."

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Because really, Greg, think about this, you're going to spend a year or a year and a half, you're going to be researching, you're going to be writing, you're going to be collecting data, you're going to collect real data, primary actual data. Then you're going to take that data and you're going to analyze it and you're going to be able to answer your research question. By the time you do all that, you walk out of here... Oh, and then you have to defend the final dissertation. You have to go in front of your dissertation committee and you have to explain to them, you have to answer questions. You do a literature review to learn what the other experts in the field are saying about your topic.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
When you've done all that work and you're completely done, guess what? You are now an expert. I tell students, "What do you want to be an expert in? Think about what you would like to consider yourself as an expert in. That's where you focus your research, that's where you focus the dissertation work, that's where you become the expert in the field."

Greg Lindberg:
In terms of the faculty who teach in this program, let's talk about just their backgrounds and what they bring to the table. And just the availability of faculty, I know in general, Saint Leo, we really pride ourselves on our faculty being so available to students if they need any kind of support, in class, outside of class, whatever the case may be.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Yes. The faculty that I use to teach in the DBA program, I use a combination of Saint Leo faculty and some adjunct faculty that I bring in for certain courses. What I always strive for is getting faculty who are more or less credentialed in the area that they're teaching in. For example, our quantitative professor has got a background in accounting. He's a full-time faculty member that teaches in accounting, economics area. I look at faculty, I look at their credentials, and I try to match their credentials with or their areas of expertise with the courses they teach.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
The culture that I work in, I really insist that the faculty who teach in the DBA program... I consider teaching at the macro level really as an honor. I expect the faculty teaching in this program to view this as a privilege, to be able to come and teach students at such a high level is a privilege. My expectation of faculty is to provide that support for those students, help them. We're not just going in and grading papers and posting something on a discussion board, but I'm asking faculty to give a little bit more of their expertise and share that.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
I have to tell you, the faculty I have working in the DBA right now are the best. They share my vision, they want to be there for the students, they want to see our students excel. And so I'm very fortunate to have faculty that really want to be a part of the vision that I have to make this program the best DBA out there.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. Very well said. As far as the DBA program itself and just how it compares to others out there and just, in general, how common the DBA is in higher education, let's get into that a little bit.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Again, a DBA degree is really designed for practitioners, for people that don't want to... they might teach because we do have a teaching practicum that students are... Part of this curriculum, we have students take two teaching courses where we actually put the students into an MBA course and they serve as teaching assistants. We give them that practical experience in teaching. A lot of our students tell me all the time, "I work full-time. I'm the vice president of a bank. Here's what I do for a living. But there's a part of me that I would really like to teach part-time."

Dr. Dale Mancini:
The teaching track that we have has been really, really received well by the students because a lot of them want to teach part-time, but they still do their career. They're still passionate about being a bank vice president, or being a marketing executive, or doing what they do. But they want that. It's like myself when I was working at GM. I worked in product engineering. As much as I liked what I was doing, I was always getting that little nudge, "I really want to teach, I really want to teach, I really want to teach." The time didn't realize that that ultimately was like I said earlier, it was really my passion.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
I encourage students all the time, no matter what you do with this degree, no matter where you go, no matter what you do in life with it, you should always consider, even if it's part-time, even if it's one or two classes a year, you should always consider teaching and giving back to others who are in this position.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. Yeah. I guess that can segue us into the final question here on what someone could actually do with this DBA degree, how this can benefit them in their career, certainly a bachelor's degree, a master's degree someone may pursue for a specific career, but I would imagine with this one. Of course, that is a possibility, but it's probably more so for advancement, would you say, within maybe a field that someone's already in?

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Yes. Part of what we teach in the DBA program is management leadership, how to manage, how to lead. Greg, I remember a time years ago, and I'm probably aging myself, but you get out of high school... Growing up in Detroit back in the day, everybody graduated from high school. And like myself, I graduated from high school, and the following Monday, I was on the assembly line at Chrysler because that's what we did, because there were auto plants all around within a 10-mile radius, five or six different plants between GM, Ford, Chrysler.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
You walked out of high school, walked into a job on the assembly line, making really good money. People didn't really give a whole lot of thought to college. And then things started to slowly turn where businesses were saying, "Well, we really want you to have a bachelor's degree." People started going to school getting their bachelor's degrees. Now, today, I know for a fact, today, to get a job on an assembly line at GM, Ford, or Chrysler, you have to have a minimum of a four-year degree. Now what's happening is... People started going out and getting bachelor degrees. All of a sudden, now the bar gets raised and now a lot of organizations are saying, "Well, we really want you to have an MBA or a master's here of this or a master's of that." More people are getting into graduate programs.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Really now, I believe it's starting to shift, where there's going to come a day where you cannot advance unless you have a terminal degree, unless you have a doctorate. We've some very smart students in this program. I think a lot of these students who are working full-time, they're visionary enough to see the writing on the wall and they're really ahead of the curve. They want to get their doctorate degree, they want to get into a position where they can advance in their work profession and be ahead of the curve a little bit. But I honestly believe the day is coming, 5, 10 years down the road where to get the job on the assembly line that required a bachelor's degree, you're not going to have to have an MBA. It's all about staying competitive and marketing yourself as a valuable asset to the organization and the DBA help with that.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. Yeah. And that is a great point about just how things have changed over time and the evolution of degree requirements and whatnot. I think that's such a valid point that now it might be the master's degree that organizations are looking for, but I think we are gradually getting there, where if you really want to attain certain levels, you're going to have to have that terminal degree.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Yeah. Greg, I just wanted to close by saying that I know speaking for myself, and this is just me, I look at my life over the last 20 years in particular and I know what getting my doctorate... I know what this has done for me. This degree has opened a lot of doors for me. I've had so many wonderful opportunities. I've met a lot of people. I've done some really great things, especially when I'm doing what I really enjoy doing, all of that because I made the effort to go... I recognized early on that, "Hey, I really need to get a doctorate." I tell every one of the students, "Stick with this, keep fighting the fight, don't give up. I can speak from experience, I know how it's changed my life and it will change your life as well." And that's my message to every single student in this program.

Greg Lindberg:
No question. I appreciate you sharing your own personal experience and I would imagine we have many students who've completed this program who can attest and say the same thing. All right. Well, again, we've been speaking with Dr. Dale Mancini, the director of the Doctor of Business Administration program here at Saint Leo University. And so, Dr. Mancini, just want to thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate your insight on this program and certainly appreciate you joining us here on the Saint Leo 360 podcast.

Dr. Dale Mancini:
Well, thank you, Greg. I appreciate the opportunity and I'd love to do it again sometime.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. All righty. Thanks so much.

Speaker 1:
To hear more episodes of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, visit saintleo.edu/podcast. To learn more about Saint Leo's programs and services, call (877) 622-2009, or visit saintleo.edu.

Episode Summary

In this episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, we catch up with Dr. Dale Mancini, the director of the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program at Saint Leo University. Dr. Mancini discussed:

  • A brief bio about himself and how he got into teaching for Saint Leo University
  • The history of the Doctor of Business Administration program and why Saint Leo started the program
  • The admission requirements
  • The varied demographics and backgrounds of the types of students who have enrolled in this doctoral program
  • Where the program is offered
  • An overview of the program requirements
  • Examples of courses
  • The faculty who teach in the program and how they stand out
  • Career opportunities and advancement possibilities with a DBA or any terminal degree on your resume

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Learn more about Saint Leo’s Doctor of Business Administration program.

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