A Tribute to Our Spring 2020 Graduates


Ph.D. Profiles


Theresa Abah
Ph.D. in Health Services Research

Dissertation title: Health Reform Implementation Analysis: A Guide to Policy Development for Geriatric Care Planning, Integration and Evaluation
Abstract: In the context of health care delivery for senior citizens, this research utilizes three studies that examine the development and implementation of health policy and the factors that can directly or indirectly impact the effective delivery of health services to senior citizens. It utilizes three essays employing mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) such as semi structured interviews, multiple regression and partial least squares structural equation modelling to examine the extent to which the implementation of health services delivered attributes of primary care and integrated care to seniors. The first two essays identified methods, strategies and approaches of integrated care relevant to the development of policy that can be successfully implemented when the contextual issues that older people consider to be important in maintaining their functional capabilities and motivation to improve their health as perceived by them are addressed. Consequent upon the results from the first two essays, the third essay examines the methodological issues on integrated geriatric care implementation when the guidelines for effective policy development identified were not followed. By highlighting the relationship between effective policy development and patient satisfaction, these three essays’ recommended approach enhances the theory of health policy development that confirms that theoretical models of primary care must incorporate the system, organizational processes, and outcome levels of service delivery to the targeted population.

“I am really fulfilled. It has been a tough journey, but I am so excited I made it to the end. I will be forever indebted to the management and staff of the University of North Texas, they made this dream come true. I really feel sad that I cannot walk at graduation. I am actually the first Ph.D. holder in my family. Almost every one of my family members was planning to attend the ceremony. I guess we just have to celebrate virtually for now.  I want thank my dissertation committee members, Drs. Gayle Prybutok, Victor Prybutok, Elias Mpofu and William Senn, for their support and guidance throughout the process. I also wish to thank my department chair, Dr. Chandra Carey, and all my professors for their encouragement and visionary leadership.

I would really like to encourage current doctoral students who may be facing some form of challenge to identify a mentor who is really interested in their progress, and can provide leadership and direction for them during the program. Working on a doctoral degree may be tough, but having the right people around you are a great encouragement. Besides, a good mentor will help direct their student to vital resources that will help to reduce a lot of stress for the student. Finally, I advise students to continue living their life while doing the Ph.D. program. Otherwise, they may experience serious loneliness by the time the program is over!”


Bernard Boadu
Ph.D. in Public Administration Management

Dissertation title: An analysis of the flypaper and fungibility effects of intergovernmental revenue on municipal operating and capital budgets
Abstract: The flypaper effect states that grants-in-aid increases public spending more than a comparable increase in personal income. If aid increases spending, then there is the possibility that it displaces own-source revenue or a portion of the aid itself is used to meet other priorities of governments, fungibility. Different local government structures have the tendency to prioritize either the operating or capital budget. Empirical evidence shows that federal and state grants have different flypaper effect. While fungible state aid is allocated to the operating budget, that of federal goes to the capital budget. Council-manager and mayor-council form of governments do not allocate fungible intergovernmental aid differently between the capital and operating budgets.

“The Ph.D. program is demanding and robust, so it feels soothing and great to graduate! Soothing because my brain can get breathing space. And great because something worth achieving is done. I will be forever grateful to Dr. Robert Bland. He has been a great mentor since day one.

It has been an incredible 4-year journey. A big thank you to the faculty at the department of public administration and also the economics department here at UNT. To current students of the program, I would like to encourage you to keep pushing.”


Duchess Humphrey
Ph.D. in Public Administration with a focus in Nonprofit Management

Dissertation title: A study of nonprofit governance through the lens of stewardship theory
Abstract: This dissertation examines the association between independent governance structure and various measures of good governance. The evaluation draws on observations of a dataset of 101 Texas public charities, in particular the organization’s self-disclosed governance-related activities as reflected in the transparency, monitoring, and strategic tools available to the public. The study reveals that two measures of good governance are associated with an identified independent governance structure at the organizational level. In managing the governance of the organization, the study finds evidence that less emphasis is placed on the constituted strategic direction clauses listed in the articles of incorporation of the organization. The research suggests that each of the fiduciary stewardship concerns need to be addressed by the legal governing body in order to fulfill good governance as an outcome quality measure.

“I am forever grateful to my dissertation committee: Drs. Simon Andrew, Hee Soun Jang and Abraham Benavides. Each of you believed in me and have helped to shape my path forward. A special thank you to my mentor, Dr. Andrew for inspiring me and challenging me to transform my lens to one of resilience and passion for my work and academic vision. Because of your strategic direction and sagacious wisdom, I can say with pride that I devoted and invested time working toward achieving my place in the academy. Thank you. I am sincerely grateful to Dr. Hee Soun Jang for seeing my potential and helping me hone my capacities to enter the realm of nonprofit scholarship. Your kindness is forever remembered. I also want to thank Dr. Abraham Benavides for providing me prudent guidance, concern, and consideration throughout the doctoral program. It is remarkable what a little faith can do. Also, I want to give a big thank you to all the UNT Department of Public Administration faculty and staff for encouraging me and allowing me to pursue my passion for learning. It has been a privilege and honor to study under your scholarship and professional leadership.

Last, but certainly not least, I am thankful to my family for recommendation letters, words of encouragement, listening ears, and selfless love.

Although graduation has been delayed, I am untroubled. I would much rather celebrate with my fellow Class of 2020 colleagues when the moment is ideal. I also want to remind everyone - patience is a virtue. Just keep going.”


Malika Pritchett
Ph.D. in Health Services Research with a concentration in Behavior Analysis

Dissertation title: Coloniality and the science of Applied Behavior Analysis
Abstract: Human life is to be universally cherished and valued. Policies about how to value lives are often developed following gross human rights violations. Some of the most horrific violations have occurred under the guise of biomedical and behavioral research. As a result, policies have been developed to protect participants. Presumably, the primary responsibility of the researcher is their protection. There are, however, potential tensions between protections and research agendas, which set the occasion for over selection of participants with vulnerabilities. This dynamic may establish competing contingencies that devalue, and potentially harm, participants. Power imbalances inherent in the researcher-participant relationship establish the researcher as the dominant knowledge seeking authority and the participant as the subservient subject. Ideally, research in Applied Behavior Analysis is driven by a steadfast orientation toward the enhancement of human life and the amelioration of suffering. The purpose of this paper is to present an analysis of human rights trends in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. The dependent measures are based on ethical principles established for the protection of participants and recommendations concerning participatory research practices in Applied Behavior Analysis. The results indicate that in some cases, protections have been minimally reported. Furthermore, power imbalances are highly likely given the processes and outcomes reported. The trends appear to be moving in an unfavorable direction in most cases. Findings are discussed on three levels: 1) a conceptual analysis of potential contingencies that influence applied behavior analytic research, 2) considerations around coloniality, and, 3) recommendations to neutralize and diffuse power imbalances to ensure the applied spirit of the science is actualized.

“When I was a freshman in community college, I decided one of my life goals would be to attain a Ph.D. Successfully defending my dissertation feels amazing. I completed this Ph.D. program under some extremely challenging circumstances.

For the entire duration of the program I commuted from Austin to Denton every week. Leaving my husband and children every week was extremely distressing. Their support and sacrifice mean the world to me.  By far, the biggest challenge I experienced during my Ph.D. journey was the unexpected death of my father. I wish he could have seen me accomplish my lifelong goal. I know he would be proud. Although the delay of walking at graduation caused me brief disappointment, it doesn’t cause me nearly as much sadness as the COVID-19 pandemic is causing me. The immense suffering the world is currently experiencing is devastating. Graduations can be rescheduled, pandemics cannot.

Is there anyone I’d like to thank who’s helped me in this achievement? This question is difficult to answer because I am extremely fortunate to have amazing support systems across all domains of my life. But, this achievement would have been impossible without my advisor, Dr. Shahla Ala’i, my dissertation committee members, Drs. Traci Cihon and Alicia Re Cruz, and my husband, Mr. Jamaun Willis.”