Rea is First BU Employee to Complete School’s Ph.D. Program
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Call Sharon Rea a trendsetter, an innovator, and, as of Bellevue University’s 2018 winter commencement ceremony, a doctor. Rea is the first Bellevue University employee to complete the school’s Ph.D. in Human Capital Management program. She started as an adjunct professor with the University in 2002 and is currently the Associate Vice President of Analytics and Assessment.
As Rea moved up the ranks at Bellevue University, she was encouraged to pursue her terminal degree. After looking around at other programs and universities, she settled on the degree next door. The first order of business was defining exactly what Human Capital Management entailed.
“It teaches you how to treat people, how to train people, how to support your employees, and how to develop and enable your employees,” Rea said. “That’s what the program is all about -- how to provide the best environment for people, so they can do their very best work.”
“It was a very humbling experience. The professors are very tough, but fair. They’re all very approachable,” she said.
Rea’s dissertation was on “Team Member Humility and Team Performance.” Dr. Stephen Linenberger served as the committee chair for Rea’s dissertation, while Dr. Greg Ashley and Dr. Eric Riley also served on the committee.
“I’ve always been interested, or disinterested, in ego, depending on your perspective. In one of the courses, we discussed leadership humility, leadership narcissism, and the toxic triangle,” Rea said. “If a leader can affect a team so much either positively or negatively, I wanted to see if a team member could do the same thing. From a positive perspective, if you have a team member who is demonstrating humility and showing that kind of care and willingness to learn, will their peers within the group start emulating that as well? My research showed that they do.”
Her professors, colleagues, and the staff of the Freeman/Lozier Library all drew praise from Rea for their support during her pursuit of the degree.
“I know I could not have done the research I did without the great resources, search tools, and assistance from the library staff. It was invaluable,” she said.
Rea drew particular inspiration from her daughter, Libby, who is finishing up her bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
“It’s been just her and I for most of this journey. She’s been a big support,” Rea said. “When she’s doing homework, I’m doing homework. We kept each other motivated. I’ve just recently graduated and she’ll be graduating in May.”
With her Ph.D. in hand, the newly christened Dr. Rea hopes to pick up some additional teaching duties in addition to her AVP responsibilities.
“I wish everyone could teach courses and I know a lot of people here do,” she said. “Our students are so inspiring. They’re trying to make their lives better. It’s so awesome that we can help working adults who have kids, who are traveling, who have life events that are going on. Our professors and instructors reach out to support them. I think that’s what sets us apart.”
As the AVP of Analytics and Assessment, she and her team are charged with building the learning analytics for the University.
“We have all kinds of data, but not as much as we’d like on how students learn,” she said. “Learning analytics are starting to show how students move through a course and how different course elements might assist students.”
Sounds like that Ph.D. will come in handy.