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Student Spotlight April 2013

“Matt is a second year doctoral student in the Educational Leadership & Organizational Development program, with a focus on postsecondary education leadership. He has distinguished himself as an exemplary student, outstanding research assistant, and ambitious young scholar.”

- Dr. Jacob Gross, Department of Leadership, Foundations and Human Resource Education


Matt Berry 1



Matt Berry received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH in May of 2006.  He also completed, in May of 2011, a Master of Science in Management & Organizational Behavior with concentrations in both Organizational Behavior and Organizational Development from Benedictine University in Lisle, IL.  Matt is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership & Organizational Development with a concentration in Postsecondary Education Administration at UofL. 


Specific areas of research (how you chose this research, why it interested you):

I have had the opportunity to conduct research in several areas relating to higher education but my primary area of interest remains exploring the effectiveness of first year programming designed to promote undergraduate student success and especially success of academically at-risk students.  

I came to this area of research via my experience as an academic advisor and instructor.  I, along with several others, helped to design a first-year skills building course for at-risk students and as time went on I began to question the effectiveness of our efforts and wondered what we could or should be doing differently to promote student success.


Long term goals/ aspirations:

I go back and forth between hoping to someday become a dean of students at a small liberal arts university and securing a tenure-track faculty position at a public research university.  As I come closer to the end of graduate school, though, the desire to just find employment seems to be taking priority. 

How do you think this advanced degree will change your role in society?  

I believe that education generally, and higher education specifically, is one of the most important investments we as a society make in addition to an often divisive political issue.  I believe I will carry with me a responsibility to constructively add to the conversation surrounding the necessity for public investment in higher education as well as ways in which the realities of a rapidly changing global society might be addressed through a retooled system of postsecondary education.  As the value of public higher education continues to be questioned I believe that I have an obligation to add my voice, whether through scholarship, advocacy or both, to the conversation.  


What accomplishment, academic or otherwise, are you most proud of?  

I played four years of varsity baseball while in college and received an all-conference honor my senior season.  I remain most proud of this accomplishment because it came as the result of an incredible amount of hard work and perseverance and because it reminds me of all that my teammates and I did together. 


What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you dealt with this challenge?

There is this moment as a graduate student, and nobody tells you when it happens, when faculty begin to both trust you and expect more from you.  It’s a time where you begin to feel like you are moving toward finding your own scholarly voice and becoming ready to contribute to your field.  It is both an exciting and equally terrifying moment. 


Family life: 

My wife, myself and our German Shepherd just bought our first house in the Highlands.  Well, the dog didn’t have much to do with buying it but it’s the first place we’ve ever lived with a real backyard so he is enjoying it the most.    


Fun Facts

A talent you have always wanted:  I’ll be cliché enough to say I’ve always wanted to be able to play the guitar. 
Favorite book: My first favorite book as a kid that still stays with me today is, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.  As an adult I enjoy anything by Hemingway. 
Favorite quote:  “It’s supposed to be hard.  If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it.  The hard is what makes it great.”  - Jimmy Dugan, A League of Their Own
Role Model:  I’ll stay with the clichés and say that my parents are my role models and, actually, the older I get the more this becomes true. 
Pet Peeve:  I don’t like when people wait to talk instead of listening.  I think you should listen more than you speak; you’ll learn more that way. 
If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now? I think I would be coaching baseball at a small college somewhere.  
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