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NCU’s Appointment of Melissa Sledge as Co-Chair of Diversity Committee

Recent Blog Posts - 02-22-2016 15:53

At NCU, we believe that a more diverse and inclusive community creates a better educational environment. In support of NCU's commitment to overall diversification, we established a Diversity Committee to place greater attention on diversity-related initiatives for students, professors and team members. The NCU Diversity Committee is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment in which the members of our global community experience educational growth, success and feel connected to each other and the university.

Melissa Sledge, Department Manager of NCU’s The School of Business and Technology, has recently been named the co-chair of the Diversity Committee. An NCU employee since 2014, Melissa brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as a professional whose main objective is to create and develop initiatives that enhance the NCU student experience. As a young, black woman she sees the issue of diversity through a different lens. She will continue to shape the direction of the committee but is excited to be taking on a leadership role where she has an opportunity to be more vocal.

“As an online university with a large global reach, it’s important to establish programs that address inclusion, diversity and community,” said Sledge. “Our goal is to go the extra mile to create a community in which our students will thrive.”

Melissa shares her thoughts on the importance and mission of NCU’s Diversity Committee:

Why was the Diversity Committee created?
In traditional, brick and mortar institutions, diversity committees host on site campus events for their students. At NCU, we have more of a responsibility to connect our worldwide students with their professors, NCU team members and each other. In an online environment, we have to be intentional in the community we create to acknowledge and celebrate all the members of NCU.

What are the goals of the Diversity Committee?
• Facilitating an environment where differences are celebrated, subconscious biases are examined, and everyone has an opportunity to positively examine their own identity
• Raising consciousness about diversity and equality among all university members
• Building competency
• Having students recognize and champion the differences in one another

Why is this committee important at NCU?
NCU is similar to other universities with students, professors, and team members who identify with a variety of identities. With our global alliance of professors and students, the expectation of building a cohesive community is a challenge. The goal of the Diversity Committee is to embrace all of these stakeholders to foster positive engagement through the promotion of policies and practices, enhanced program offerings in alignment with NCU's global vision and working to remove barriers to quality education.

Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

How to Stop the Battle Over Homework

Recent Blog Posts - 02-19-2016 11:16

What’s the trick to stop the fighting over homework? NCU Mentor M. Lynn Morse, Ed.D., a mother of a 10-year-old, shares her sure-fire tips to survive nightly homework.

Parents, does the mere sound of the word “homework” make you shudder? You are not alone. The original purpose of “homework” has changed drastically over the last 25 years. Today, homework isn’t always reinforcement of previously learned material, it’s often new material not yet covered in class, making you the de facto teacher.

As the mother of 10-year-old daughter, I feel your nightly pain. Do not despair, I offer you hope, a type of survival bag of tricks that are actually “kid tested, and mother approved.”


  1. Stop, Drop and Roll--The Books Out. Complete homework ASAP! My daughter knows the drill. We arrive in the house, the coat comes off and the books come out onto the kitchen table. She goes to the bathroom, gets a snack and does not pass go before her homework is done. I start dinner, answer emails or do a million other tasks. I am near, but I do not hover. The distractions of the TV, iPad, etc. are out of reach until the work is done. The reality is that once our children leave our line of vision, the battle is lost.
  2. You Don’t Know Everything; So Don’t Try to Fake It! Thank goodness for Google. Often, I search the web while my daughter tackles another subject. But in order for it to be effective, you have to admit to both you and your child that you do not know everything. Also, do not teach anything the way you learned it. Ask your child for their notes; then see if what you have found online matches the notes. If you try to teach it your way, you will really confuse and frustrate everyone.
  3. Phone A Friend. Create two emergency homework hotline lists. One list consists of phone numbers of other parents in your child’s class in the event a homework assignment was left at school. The parents can snap a picture of the assignment and text it to you. Another list is for my “experts.” Everyone knows someone who is amazing at math, a fantastic writer or a super brainy scientist. Make sure to put them on your speed dial! When an assignment comes home that is way beyond your expertise, send a mass SOS to your group.
  4. Just Because It Is Assigned, Doesn’t Mean It All Has to Be Completed. Newsflash: You still have power as the parent. Homework needs to be reasonable. My rule of thumb is no more than 20 minutes per subject, per night for grades 4-6 and 30 minutes for grades 7-12 excluding large projects or tests/quizzes. If you’re in hour three and you have already gone through a box of tissues to collect the tears of both you and your child … STOP! Send an email to the teacher and inform them how you and your child spent the evening. Teachers, believe it or not, are human. By alerting us, we know to follow up with your child the next day.
  5. You Already Passed 4th Grade. As parents, we want to help our kids, however that does not mean we do their homework for them. I am guilty of typing a paragraph that my daughter wrote for hours, and as I type I also play copy editor. I am sure our parents did it, but it’s wrong. Teachers need to see the mistakes and errors our children make to ensure that the child has actually learned the information. The teacher knows that you can write a descriptive paragraph, but they are unsure if your child can. Unless you plan on rooming with your child in their college dorm, let them make mistakes. Resist the urge to correct their work.


Well, my comrades in the homework battle, I hope my tips have brought you some peace and solidarity. We are all in this together: parents, children and teachers. Let’s work to get out of the murky underworld of homework together. I’ll keep trying, if you do.

Blog Categories: education-2Blog Tags: childrenhomeworkparentsparenting tipseducation
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

NCU Alum Named Montana's Fire and Aviation Management Bureau Chief

Recent Blog Posts - 02-19-2016 09:57

What started as a volunteer firefighter position at age 17, turned into a lifetime career for Dr. Michael DeGrosky. He was recently appointed as Montana’s new Fire and Aviation Management Bureau Chief.

DeGrosky, a 2013 NCU graduate with a PhD in Business Administration with an emphasis in organizational leadership, believes it was his NCU education that led him to his new job.

“My NCU degree put me head and shoulders, educationally over the competition - as I was the only PhD applying,” he said. “I believe that my educational credentials and advanced education in the fields of both Business Administration and Organizational Leadership provided me with a substantial edge over other candidates who held similar technical credentials and experience to mine.”

The Fire and Aviation Management Bureau provides resources, leadership and coordination to Montana’s wildland fire services to protect lives, property, and natural resources. The Bureau works with local, tribal, state, and federal partners to ensure wildfire protection on all state and private land in Montana. Prior to taking the job, DeGrosky was CEO and principal consultant for Guidance Group, Inc., a small consulting firm specializing in the human and organizational aspects of the fire service.

In addition to his new role in Montana, DeGrosky is an adjunct instructor in the Leadership Studies Department at Fort Hays State University.

DeGrosky chose NCU for his doctoral program because of the unique combination of online learning, full accreditation, affordability and the right degree program.

“For aspiring PhD students, I would advise that they plan for the long haul, particularly if they are working in addition to studying,” he said. “Be patient, be disciplined, keep your eye on what you hope to accomplish, and have a support network of others involved in academia.”

Blog Categories: ncu-alumniBlog Tags: businessphdonline learningalumnigraduate
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

Keep Your Business From Failing

Recent Blog Posts - 02-18-2016 11:35

Starting a business can be a challenge. Some statistics show that 8 in 10 businesses will fail in the first five years, while others are a bit more optimistic saying half will fail. No matter what set of numbers you believe, what’s the secret sauce that makes one business make it and another fail? To get some insight, we spoke with NCU professor, Dr. Wanda Gwyn, who is also the owner of Gwyn Consulting Services.

Q. What are some of the key reasons a business fails?
A. There are four areas:

  1. Failure to invest in human capital or building relationships
  2. Failure to meet the needs of the technologically-savvy consumer
  3. Poor knowledge of money management or inability to develop a sustainable plan for the organization
  4. Poor or no ethical code within the organization

Q. How does an entrepreneur avoid these pitfalls?
A. It’s important for an entrepreneur to listen. This means listening to both employee and consumer needs. In addition, too often an entrepreneur works just to earn enough money and not to grow. It’s important to understand sustainability and the need to save for yourself and your staff's future.

Q. What do successful businesses have in common regardless of industry?
A. I honestly believe the most successful companies are those that participate in activities that support corporate social responsibility. It’s common sense that the community members are also your consumers.

Successful businesses also have teams who believe in the mission of the organization. This one thing alone is golden.

Blog Categories: career-adviceBlog Tags: businessentrepreneurship
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

Career Opportunities with a Master of Science Specialization in Public Administration

Recent Blog Posts - 02-17-2016 14:52

When most people think about careers in public administration, the first thing that comes to mind are front-facing positions like police officers, elected officials or firefighters. There are, however, a whole host of career fields available for public administration graduates. To capitalize on these opportunities, NCU recently launched a new Masters of Science degree in Organizational Leadership with a specialization in Public Administration.

“Graduates can look forward to positions not only in public service (local municipalities, counties, state and federal government), but also community organizations (nonprofit), and private sector opportunities,” said Dr. Gisela Salas, an NCU professor for the program.

Besides working in public safety or as an elected official, other front-line customer-centric positions are available within government departments such as parks and recreation, waste management, utilities management (water and sewer), and planning and transportation.

“There are also support positions that can take individuals into careers which can transfer to the private sector such as budget and fiscal management, public information and communications, social responsibility, and human resources,” said Salas.

The NCU degree also helps set graduates up for executive level positions including division and department directors, and ultimately, city managers, county administrators, state directors, and federal administration positions.

“After gaining experience and serving in public and non-profit organizations, some may wish to continue their careers as management consultants, providing valuable insight to private corporations on the inner workings of government,” said Salas who did this after 20 years in deputy supervisor roles in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties and as the Election Director in Florida.

Consulting roles are available for individuals who have worked in just about every segment of public service. Individuals can serve as subject matter experts offering a competitive advantage to the companies that contract with them. For example, Salas transitioned to working as an Independent Contractor focusing on government relations, business development, and coordination of RFP (Requests for Proposals) responses to government agencies seeking specialized products and/or services.

The NCU Masters in Public Administration is unique in the industry because of the NCU model which allows students to begin their program on any Monday, and all instructors have doctoral degrees and experience in the field to share with students on how research and theory apply to real world situations.

“The one-to-one learning relationship between students and instructors often leads to long-term professional relationships,” said Salas.

Blog Categories: career-adviceBlog Tags: Organizational Leadershipeducationcareerspublic administration
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

How Mindfulness Improves Learning

Recent Blog Posts - 02-17-2016 13:53

Simply put, mindfulness is being non-judgmentally aware and actively engaged in the present moment. Many people are surprised when they learn that they have to intentionally harness mindfulness and that our default state is mindlessness, or being zoned out and operating on autopilot.

In education, being zoned out simply doesn’t work. Engaging in a mindfulness practice is very beneficial to the student. NCU psychology professor Dr. Kristin Koetting O’Byrne believes that her colleague, Harvard professor Dr. Ellen Langer, is right on target with the perspective that the way to achieve mindfulness is to seek novelty. Working from that viewpoint, Dr. O’Byrne has these tips for how students can make mindfulness work for them.

  1. Search for novelty. The next time you are attending a lecture, writing a paper, or reading an assignment, try to notice three new things (even if they’re small). This facilitates mindfulness, and perhaps provides an added benefit. Research studies found that when people were instructed to notice new things about a task or object they disliked, they actually grew to like what they had previously disliked.
  2. Make it Personal. If you are reading about smoking cessation in your health psychology class, make it relevant to you by thinking about someone you know who is trying to quit smoking. Another method is to put yourself in their shoes. Let’s suppose you are reading about leadership challenges in your educational leadership class. Read the information as if you were in that leadership position.
  3. Use multiple perspectives. If you are reading a case study in your organizational behavior class, think about it from the view of the CEO and then read it from the perspective of an administrative role.
  4. Avoid memorizing and instead learn conditionally. When you frame something as “I could,” you learn conditionally, meaning that there might be other and even better ways to carry out a task. This facilitates mindfulness. When we learn conditionally (i.e., could be), as if something it is a possibility or merely one alternative, it encourages us to think about the information because it doesn’t easily fit into an existing, rigid ‘box.’ The qualifier “could be” makes us aware that there are options. Perhaps more importantly, it facilitates flexibility when things in life change. In contrast, when we learn to do things only one way, we usually do not question what we are told, and we passively memorize the information. Then, when situations change, we feel stuck. We can’t think of alternatives. “This is how you could” implies there are other ways.
  5. Let the grade go. When we are focused on the process (learning) versus the outcome (getting a good grade), we are more likely to be engaged and mindful.
  6. Change the context. Suppose you are reading about a school initiative in rural Virginia. Think about how it could be similar or different if this was done in California. Or, think about how an effective mass communication strategy in the inner-city may work differently in a suburban area.
  7. Change your scenery. Pick a new study location. Changing the view is a great way to break a routine and re-engage.
  8. STOP MULTITASKING. We are rarely fully engaged in one task. Doing more than one thing at the same time is a sure way to defeat mindfulness.
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

HALT Emotional Eating

Recent Blog Posts - 02-17-2016 13:27

It’s 9 p.m. and the kids are finally in bed. You finished a paper, you’re worried about how dirty the house is and the exam you have tomorrow. Suddenly you have a massive craving for potato chips. If you think your body is truly hungry, think again. More likely your sudden desire for a salty treat has nothing to do with needing calories and everything to do with needing soothing.

Emotional eating is so common we don’t even know when we’re doing it. We use food to try and fill an emotional need we may not even know that we have. We’re programmed to do it. How many times as a kid did you fall down and Mom gave you a cookie to make you feel better? Or did you dive into a pint of ice cream when a teenage romance fizzled?

While some “Chunky Monkey” ice cream might make us momentarily forget the pain, there’s a different kind of pain we have to confront when our jeans no longer button as a result.

“Emotional eating is self-soothing and the behavior needs to be replaced rather than eliminated,” said Arlene Perry a certified health coach and PhD student in health psychology at NCU. “You need to distract yourself with more positive activities. One idea is to make a list of positive distractions. Write each one on a small piece of paper and place in an empty cookie jar. Draw one each time you want to reach for a poor food choice.”

Perry suggests that to stop mindless eating, you have to examine what is going on behind the craving by using the HALT technique. Are you Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Or Tired? Usually, one of the four is behind hunger, and that’s when you should eat.

Here are some other tips to help put a stop to emotional eating:

  • Pamper yourself. Don’t forget to take time for you in your crazy busy life. Instead of grabbing a donut, draw a bubble bath instead. The idea is to give your body other ways besides food to feel good.
  • When you are hungry, eat whole, real, nutritious food that will make you feel satiated. Eating a bag of chips has no nutritional value and consequently you will feel real hunger soon after eating them.
  • Know your triggers ahead of time. If you know that being alone on a Friday night causes you to hit the fridge, plan ahead. Decide to talk to a friend on the phone, write in your journal or watch a movie so you won’t be sitting alone dwelling on not having a weekend plan.
  • Drink black tea. A study in the journal of Psychopharmacology found that subjects who drank black tea experienced a 47% drop in their cortisol levels, the stress hormone that makes you crave food, compared to 27% among the subjects who drank a placebo.
  • Breathe. To get your emotions back in check, take several deep breaths when you’re feeling stressed out and ready to eat.
Blog Categories: your-life-your-healthBlog Tags: cravingsunhealthy eatingemotional eating habits
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

Former Firefighter Now NCU Student Shares Doctoral Journey

Recent Blog Posts - 02-12-2016 14:12

Service is the central theme of Al Williams career. The former firefighter turned homeland security teacher at Indian River State College in Florida is dedicated to keeping the public safe and training the next generation to do the same in an increasingly frightening world.

To continue to best serve his students, Williams decided to pursue his PhD in Business Administration with a Homeland Security specialization at NCU. He expects to graduate in 2016.

Williams’ dissertation topic focuses on the capabilities of fire departments to train for, and respond to, terrorist events. What he discovered is that post 9/11 new equipment, special training and additional staff were provided to emergency services in many communities in the event of future terrorist threats. As a result of the downturn in the economy, funds were cut dramatically due to less tax-based revenue. Williams is researching how this reduction in staff, fewer training programs and less equipment maintenance affects a community.

“I picked NCU because not only was it one of only a few schools that offered my chosen field, but it also had no residency requirement,” said Williams.

Williams was also a pro when it came to online learning, having earned his master’s degree online, and on the flip side, teaching online classes.

“It does take a special dedication to study online,” he said. “You need to be self-driven and make sure your family is on board because they will have to sacrifice while you’re in school. You need their backing and their support.”

Blog Categories: phd-program-doctoral-programsBlog Tags: phdDoctoralfirefighterhomeland securitybusiness
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

PhD in Business Administration Shares His NCU Experience

Recent Blog Posts - 02-12-2016 10:02


When you’re a college instructor picking a school for your own education, you can bet that your standards are high. Such was the case when Richard Babich decided to pursue his PhD.

“I researched about 30 schools and found NCU to be the best,” Babich said. “I looked for a program that had accreditation and NCU met that requirement.”

Babich needed a PhD because he wanted to teach at the university level. He graduated in 2014 from NCU with a PhD in Business Administration with a management specialization.

“NCU was a great choice for me, I could work, be in a different country, and earn an accredited PhD online,” he said. “I also found NCU to be a good value for the monies required for tuition and found it very competitive compared to other universities. I was looking for a PhD that would allow me to teach at the university level and would be robust enough that I could teach many subjects, thus providing a greater opportunity and return on my investment.”

So far his NCU degree is paying off in spades.

“My career in academics is now promising and secure. Without a PhD, I could not teach full-time at the college or university level and mainly taught sessional courses,” he explained. “Since graduation with the PhD, I am now full-time faculty at the SAIT School of Business, which is one of the largest business schools in Alberta. I found that once I had earned my PhD, I had credibility with post-secondary school management, other faculty, and with other PhDs. I found that my input and opinions carried more weight with three letters -PhD.”

As a professor himself, Babich placed a lot of weight on the fact that all of NCU’s faculty has their doctorate degrees.

“It was important from a mentoring perspective to have faculty who had been through the doctoral process and journey. After reaching my doctoral candidacy status, the faculty treated me as a peer, which is important on the journey to help keep the learner motivated,” he said.

In addition to his teaching career, Babich is a reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces, and is CEO of Babich Management and Educational Services Inc.

Blog Categories: higher-degreesBlog Tags: graduatebusinessphdDoctoral
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

NCU Sponsors Lecture on Treatment for Psychological Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Recent Blog Posts - 02-12-2016 08:51

Northcentral University’s Department of Marriage and Family Sciences is hosting an online guest lecture on Thursday, February 18. The title of the lecture is: EMDR Therapy for the Treatment of Trauma and Psychological Stress which will provide an introduction to EMDR Therapy, an evidence-based treatment for psychological trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder. This treatment has also been helpful to those who are facing a variety of other challenges, such as depression and grief.

The presenter, Erika Smith-Marek, PhD, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Pensacola, Florida. She is an AAMFT Clinical Fellow and AAMFT Approved Supervisor with more than a decade of experience specializing in the treatment of trauma and posttraumatic disorder. She is also a Certified Trauma Specialist through the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists.

Dr. Smith-Marek is a full member of the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) and is an EMDRIA Certified Therapist in EMDR. She serves as the Regional Coordinator for EMDRIA Northwest Florida. Her clinical and research interests converge around the treatment of trauma, including novel exercise interventions for the treatment of traumatic stress.

Please access this link to sign up for the online lecture.

Lecture: EMDR Therapy for the Treatment of Trauma and Psychological Stress
Date: Thursday, February 18, 2016
Time: 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time
Sign-Up Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2022423368594916097

Resources for more information, including details on training and certification in EMDR Therapy, will also be provided.

Blog Categories: marriage-and-family-therapyBlog Tags: lecturewebinarposttraumatic stresspsychological trauma
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

Online Education Booming for Baby Boomers

Recent Blog Posts - 02-09-2016 16:23

On the surface, Baby Boomers may seem to be an unlikely demographic for online education, but according to Jarita Westbook-Caspers, an NCU Enrollment Advisor, it can actually be the ideal path to a degree for older students.

Caspers knows from experience. She is a Baby Boomer who graduated from NCU in 2014 with a Master of Education in E-Learning.

According to Caspers, the biggest fear that prospective Baby Boomer students have is a fear of technology.

“I help ease their fears by letting them know that NCU has an online help desk with individuals who can speak to them via phone to help solve any technical issue that may come up,” she said.

Once Baby Boomers get over their trepidation about technology, Caspers is quick to point out the many benefits online learning offers. Here she shared with us some of the main reasons an online NCU education appeals to Boomers:

  1. No GRE/GMAT required. Boomers may have been out of school for a long time and not studied for a standardized test in decades.
  2. Flexibility. There is no set log-in times and Boomers can work at their own pace.
  3. No residency requirement. Boomers have established lives and don’t want to relocate for school.
  4. No student groups or discussion boards. Most schools have both of these and Boomers have been there, done that, and do not like - or have the time - to mess with group assignments. NCU for the most part only has a few discussion posts and usually they are between the student and the professor.
  5. Learning styles. Online education is a good fit for any learning style.
Blog Categories: online-learning-2Blog Tags: baby boomersBoomerseducationonlinetechnology
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

NCU Professor Shares Innovations in Education Technology

Recent Blog Posts - 02-08-2016 16:20

Technology has changed learning in the 21st Century, and NCU is a perfect example since the university offers 100 percent online coursework with no physical residency requirements. Throughout this industry, innovators are leveraging new tools to enhance learning and change how people think about education. One of those thought leaders is NCU’s Dr. William Smith, a professor in the School of Education. We recently caught up with Dr. Smith to find out more about a new learning management software program he created, as well as a hybrid school he founded.

What is a blended instruction model?

A blended instruction model is when learners come to school in a traditional manner with a teacher and a space/opportunity to learn, but they spend less days and hours than in a traditional school. To replace that time, the learner works independently leveraging an online program of content delivery to further the learner's academic growth. The learning is blended between being face-to-face with a teacher and working online through a learning management system.

Can you tell us about the school you created?

In order to provide a high-quality learning environment for our learners, we developed two programs:

  1. MySchoolatKent is a blended learning environment that students attend two days per week and the rest of the learning is supported virtually by HQ Online Teachers. The students also get other traditional brick and mortar supports such as a guidance counselor and a social worker to support them in their learning process.
  2. SuccessLink is where students get the same support, but these occur at regional centers such as the library. SuccessLink students typically have been involved in some sort of discipline action that limits their access to the traditional school setting.

Tell us about the blended instruction software you created:

The software called Edify is a next generation learning management system that allows learners to individualize their learning, teachers to deliver standards-based content, and most importantly, allows for each student and/or teacher to focus on what they do not know as identified through standards based assessments. It can serve as a digital textbook, a common assessment for formative and summative data, and can be the platform that connects the data side of education to the content side. Edify can be both an Inspired Learning Management Systems (iLMS) for students and teachers, since both can benefit. Students can benefit from standards-based content and teachers can benefit from professional development that is housed in the system.

What is your background?

I have been an educational leader for 26 years and have been a passionate advocate for educational reform.

What do you teach at NCU?

I teach a variety of courses within educational leadership including Contemporary Issues in Education, Educational Policies and Practices, Multicultural Relationships in Educational Organizations, and K-12 Specialization Action Research Capstone.

For more information on Dr. Smith’s software visit: http://www.kickstandsystems.com/videos
For more information on the Hybrid School visit: http://www.myschoolatkent.net/about-myschool/

Blog Categories: education-2Blog Tags: technologyonline technologychildrenschoolscomputers
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

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