The Best Ph.D. and MSOD in Organization Change!

The Transformation of my Daughter Arielle: Becoming a Transformation  Agent Helping Business become a “Cooperidder like” Agent of Change  


A little history:

As far as I know, I was the first to graduate with the masters in OD from a Jesuit or Catholic University in the world. There were no organization change texts at the time. Thus, Dr. Egan from Loyola in Chicago gave me, hot off the press, the first 3 books of the Addison Wesley Series by Bennis, Beckhard, and Schein to get started in the literature.

After graduating I then hand wrote 50 of the greatest change agents like Argyris, Bradford, Gibb, Blake, Blanchard, Lippitt & Edie Seashore and asked where I should get my Ph.D. The first change community with the hub at National Training Laboratories was quite small. Everyone knew everyone else.  With an amazing 90% response, the data overwhelmingly indicated that there was no adequate Ph.D. program available but I should attend the MSOD program at Pepperdine. Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) was in chaos and transition at the time. Herb Shepherd who founded the first Ph.D. program at CWRU also told me to study with Bob Tannenbaum at Pepperdine.  I applied for the third class some 40 years ago. All in all, it was the most transforming experience in my life: surpassing my many previous T-Groups. In the early days, I doubt any other academic program cried and laughed as deeply as the Pepperdine community. Self as an instrument of change was foundational.

Some years later, I had the honor of being an adjunct faculty member of Pepperdine where I taught Whole System Transformation with a focus on large group interactive events.

Now to the “here and now” – seven hours and 77 minutes ago, my daughter, Arielle, graduated in the Pepperdine MSOD program.

Thus today, I celebrate her transformation, who through her own free choice and surprising her father, entered the program two years ago. As the youngest of classmates from all over the world, she has had the opportunity to lead consulting efforts in China, Puerto Rico and France. She has matriculated deeply and meaningfully with my global clients such as Alex from Africa and Raed from Saudi.  I introduced both of them to the program. They also proclaim extraordinary learning and personal transformation.

Arielle, is now ready to continue changing and transforming the world working internally with top executives at Allstate.

My dream is that one day, Arielle along with my wife Maja will carry my legacy of Whole System Transformation deep into Asia and Africa.

I always recommend the Pepperdine program to anyone in the world who truly wants to have the best global OD education. The founders created the design. Now with Dr. Ed Schein, the only remaining founder still alive to teach, a new batch of professors have built upon the past and accelerated the program to futuristic performance.

Without doubt, it has become the most recognized global change program in the world. Because it has a human interaction lab & residential focus of only eight days at a time. Hence, people from any place in the world can attend.

Allow me to share more of my early days of teaching OD. I first taught organization development in the doctoral program of University of Minnesota under Dr. Gary McLean.  Rothwell, Gary and I created our first text: Practicing Organization Development as the key content.

I then supported one of our students Mitch Kusey, in the start-up of the Masters program in OD at the University of St. Thomas (UST) in Minnesota. It became a solid program. Teaching in the program for many years led me to my current refinement of how to teach OD. It is having the person velcroed to my hip in a client organization following a proven whole system transformation structured process.

One time during my meditation, I had this vision of having a wonderful Ph.D. program at UST. Again supporting Dr. Kusey with the help of OD founder Dr. Peter Vail, the UST Ph.D. program was initiated. Peter and I set the prerequisite for entrance be an exam on the current version of Organization Development and Change by Cummings and Worley. (By the way, I strongly recommend anyone interested in change management to read their recently released 10th edition.)

I insisted that the UST program be in part residential lab/classes. Students to this day tell me that the residential are the highlight of the program.

Then the seeds for transformation of the UST Ph.D. were created when Dr. David Jamieson, a key student of Dr. Bob Tannenbaum from UCLA and Pepperdine was hired to revive and renew the UST Masters & Ph.D program. He has done a splendid job.  To my amazement, he patterned the Ph.D. program after the Pepperdine MSOD model. As I hear the testimonies from those who are in the new program, it is incredible. I have it becoming the number one best Ph.D. program in OD on Globe. Why? Because it is the only program that has extensive residential laboratory education while the learning based on the founders work at National Training Labs (where I got my start in 1962).

I would like to mention 5 other global change programs that are in my mind solid. Most of the change teaching out there today is the blind leading the blind!!!

The first program I want to mention is the Social Organizational Psychology Ph.D. program at Ateneo de Manila University. This Jesuit program came from my Dr. Egan at Loyola by the way of Fordham in New York before being incepted in Manila. My wife is a student there today so I know of what I speak.

The second program that I would like to mention is the Masters and OD programs under the guidance of Dr. Perla Tayko at Assumption University of Thailand. I remember some 20 years ago when Dr. Perla sought input of the core academic OD professors to ensure her program was authentic.   It has just seen a spurt of growth moving into China and Myanmar.

To this day, Dr. Perla is having an influence on my life. She is one of the most positive change agents I personally know. I have adapted her theme of “Transformative Learning and Change and “Whole Brain Literacy” in all I do.   I remember perhaps 20 years ago, Perla and I were at the ODI conference in Mexico. Perla reached out to my then 7-year old daughter and helped her feel right at home among the “old change professionals.”

The third program is Benedictine University in Chicago. A little history: I entered the Masters of Social work program in 1968 at George Williams. Jerry Perlmutter trained at NTL brought the T-Group modality into the entire university. I was in the first class that the now famed Dr. Peter Sorenson ever taught. I chose the program because the MSW program had the best small group work available. At the time, such is where OD training started.

A side note: Our T-groups held at the Lake Geneva resort campus. My daughter was 2 months old when she attended (here in her mother’s arms) the first ODI conference at the Lake Geneva campus.

Just after I completed the first exciting year at George Williams, Dr. Egan, called me from Loyola and said he was going to start a pure Masters program in OD and that he wanted me to be the first student. I leaped at the chance. While the George Williams program was great, I felt the genuine OD theory and practice became contaminated with the Social Work accreditation requirements.

When George Williams needed to close because of land tax issues in suburban Chicago, Peter Sorensen took the essential OD program from GW and transferred it to Benedictine. It now reviles the Ph.D. program at UST as the best global OD program in the USA.

One of the most famous students from Bendictine is Dr. Lee Lu, the current President of AODN. Our 10th AODN Summit will be in China in a few months. (www.AODN.Org)

The fourth that I would like to mention is the new kid on the block just starting. It is in India at The Center for Social and Organizational Leadership (C SOL) housed in the famed Tata Institute for Social Sciences. They just expanded from Mumbai to Delhi and Bangalore. I hope to have them expand in Malaysia in the next few years. I have reviewed their curriculum. It is the most authentic and true to the founders’ philosophy that I have seen. Their strength is the adapting of historical OD to modern times, especially in India and Asia.

Oh. There is one last one. In my humble opinion the most authentic “solely” online OD Masters is at Penn State under the leadership of my 25 year pal, Dr. William Rothwell.  He and I were the OD competency experts for years and years. Rothwell’s program also is having great success and growing by leaps and bounds.

So as my daughter says, just my two cents. The above is just one person’s view. Roland’s view who humbly comes from the farmlands of rural USA.

I would love to hear about other upcoming great change education.

Below is Arielle 7 hours ago as graduation was streamed to yours truly in the South East Asia.  As I look at the picture below, I have a throb in my heart, a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. Just one proud father. More importantly I want to thank all the OD and original applied behavioral heretics or change agents whose wisdom is preparing our youth to help get this messed up world into the Age of Aquarius. Let the sun shine in!!!Picture1

One Response to “The Best Ph.D. and MSOD in Organization Change!”

  1. freddiejberg Says:

    An endearing, empathetic explication, and personal history, with lessons for many in current programs, and future adherents.


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