Nearly thirty years to the day after he received his first degree from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, UTC College of Business Dean Robert Dooley received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya.
His work there began in 2008, when he held the position of Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Research in the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University. After a grant had not been funded due to the poor United States economy, Dooley and other faculty met with Moi business faculty to discuss another kind of partnership. Dooley was challenged by Professor Henry Maritim, dean of the School of Business and Economics at Moi at that time.
“He asked if we were actually going to do something, or just go home. He said that they have a lot of schools come to Kenya, check things out, and then go home and they never hear from them again. I wasn’t sure what yet, but I assured him we were going to be doing something in Kenya,” Dooley declared.
It was decided to address a pressing problem—the Moi campus had 26,000 students, roughly 13,000 of them business majors, and approximately 35 faculty members. Only two School of Business and Economics faculty held the Ph.D. It’s different in the United States, for instance, at UTC there are 2,000 College of Business students and 36 faculty members who hold the Ph.D.
The plan at Moi was to try and use as few financial resources as possible and instead use human capital to assist with research and help facilitate the completion of doctoral degrees. Faculty travelled to Kenya, and doctoral students came to the United States to further their studies.
Since the collaboration began Maritim has died, but the faculty from both continents worked together. Today, 12 additional faculty members have attained their terminal degrees and eight more are on track toward completing research for the Ph.D., a significant accomplishment for Moi. That part of the collaboration is close to completion.
“It’s interesting because now we hear them talk about how they are becoming a resource for the region. Ethiopia, Tanzania and all of these surrounding areas are sending students to Moi University to be educated in advanced graduate degrees for business,” Dooley explained.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has been involved for two years by bringing small groups of Moi and Kenyan faculty to the Chattanooga campus for a week. They attend classes and partner with faculty. They learn more about education methods, they engage with UTC students and College of Business classes. Six faculty members will come to UTC the week of March 17.
Dooley said his honorary doctorate from Moi was unexpected, but when he listened to the educators there talk about why he was the recipient of this honor, he realized it was a “much bigger deal than he had realized.” They spoke of a tangible outcome and one that has moved the needle forward for their School.
“From an economic development perspective, this collaboration is important because education and engaging globally is the key to economic development across the world. Africa has a tremendous amount of potential, and any extent we can engage there and help develop that potential is a good thing,” Dooley said.