GMercyU's Raymond Bandlow, PhD Wins Prestigious Award for Innovation in Higher Education

Gwynedd Mercy University Professor of Education Policy Raymond Bandlow, PhD, has received the Nikolai Khaladjan International Award for Innovation in Higher Education from the American Association of University Administrators.

The award recognizes "innovation and achievement in higher education worldwide, and is given for work that is both innovative and has wide potential for application or impact on the international dimensions of post-secondary education."

Dr. Bandlow created and oversees the Doctorate in Education  program at GMercyU, which includes the groundbreaking degree completion option for students who are ABD (All But Dissertation) from another institution.

In 2014, Dr. Bandlow launched GMercyU's EdD program to help counteract a very low nationwide graduation rate for doctoral degree programs, largely due to a lack of student support in completing the dissertation requirement. Dr. Bandlow designed GMercyU's EdD programs to offer a highly personal experience with dissertation support that begins in the first course and continues throughout the program.

His approach worked. GMercyU's EdD program has a year-to-year retention rate of 93% and a graduation rate of 76% in just three years, nearly double the national average of 41% in 10 years, according to a 2010 study done by the Council of Graduate Schools.

"Considering that there are at least 400 EdD programs in the U.S., it's remarkable that this national association selected our program as the most innovative," said Dr. Bandlow. "But innovation is not about what you've done. It's about what you're going to do next."

Inspired by the initial EdD program's success, Dr. Bandlow then launched GMercyU's ABD (All But Dissertation) Degree Completion program to give former doctoral students who didn't graduate an opportunity to finish the degree. In 2021, he took it a step further, opening the ABD completion option to doctoral students from all disciplines - not just those in education - who need support completing their dissertation to earn a doctorate focused on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

"We are very proud that Dr. Bandlow received this well-deserved award," said Mary Sortino, PsyD, Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. "He recognizes and respects the challenges facing working professionals as they pursue their doctoral studies. Every detail of his programs reflects that, which is why they're so successful."

Five years ago, GMercyU was the first to offer a doctoral degree completion program for those ABD in Education, said Dr. Bandlow. "Today there are at least seven others. This year, we became the first to offer a doctoral completion program for those ABD in other disciplines. We need to be working on our next innovation."