NGU News

NGU Graduates First Doctor of Education Class

Posted on: March 10, 2021
By LaVerne Howell,

Tigerville, SC (December 16, 2019) North Greenville University (NGU) held December commencement on Friday evening, December 13 in Turner Chapel on the Tigerville Campus. Dr. Ralph E. Enlow, Jr., president of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), addressed the 187 undergraduate and graduate students, family, and friends.

Following the processional of the administration, faculty, and candidates, NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr., welcomed all honored guests and read Psalm 111:10.

Rev. J. Adrian Allen, a father of a graduate and pastor at Lamar First Baptist Church in Lamar, led the invocation. An Old Testament reading was offered by retiring Professor of Christian Studies Dr. Adrian Pater. Chair of the Department of Elementary Education Dr. Michelle Schaich read New Testament passages. The NGU Concert Choir and NGU Concert Band provided music.

Enlow referenced the nativity account in Matthew 2. Jesus is the central character in the story. He asked what these passages have to do with the graduates’ graduation from North Greenville University. “Everything,” he said.

“Your education here has encouraged you to embrace a Christ-centered biblical metanarrative perspective on all of reality. I stand before you on your graduation day to plead with you and pray that for all the days of your life you will seek central casting’s help to ensure that every day you read life’s script and play your part from the proper perspective as a subject to the one true king,” said Enlow. “Align your hopes and priorities with that heavenly focus.”

After the diplomas were conferred and presented Jeff Sundell, a father of a graduate and executive vice president for field strategy with e3 Partners Ministry in Athens, Greece, offered the benediction.

Doctor of Education Class of 2019   

Commencement at NGU is always a special and exciting event on campus. Still, with the Fall 2019 class, there is an extra layer of excitement added to the mix as NGU has its first five graduates earn a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree.

Although, the Ed.D. degree is relatively new to the NGU Graduate School offerings, beginning in August 2016, there are currently 60 students enrolled in the program. The inaugural graduation of the first five students in the program is a momentous occasion and cause for celebration as NGU continues to offer relevant programs for adult learners and professionals seeking to further their education and advance their careers.

Dr. Tawana Scott, assistant vice-president for adult and graduate academic services, states, “We are extremely proud of this inaugural graduating class of the Doctor of Education program. The students in this class are superb and demonstrate the perseverance to accomplish great things.”

The inaugural graduating class members in higher education are Kayla Marie Black of Lexington; Jordan Mack Hairr of Boiling Springs; and Thomas Phillips of Spartanburg. Graduating with a concentration in K-12 studies are Robert Noel Lyons of Piedmont, and Heather (Callie) McCale Finley Wentzky of Greer.

When Hairr began his program, his wife was pregnant with their first child, and his second child was born while enrolled. He found the hybrid program offered helpful in juggling his many responsibilities and demands of work and family life. His advice for juggling all the responsibilities, “Invest in a great coffee maker. Seriously, it would be time management.” Hairr adds, “I had to make a lot of sacrifices on the weekends and to my sleep schedule to complete my school work.”

Hairr expressed his high regard for his experience as a student, “The NGU Ed.D. curriculum has done an excellent job at making me more prepared for my current job and given me the foundation and preparation needed to continue to work toward my professional goals.” He continued, “I would recommend this program to anyone interested in K-12 or higher education leadership/administration.”

The Ed.D. degree is research-based and focuses on excellence in academic foundation and standards. Yet, the degree strives to also encourage students to grow and mature in their Christian Worldview as they continue in their quest to be transformational leaders for church and society. The task of preparing students to assume positions of leadership is a role that NGU educators do not take lightly. NGU educators look forward to providing an educational experience that will not only prepare students to assume a leadership role but graduates that will be regarded as some of the best in the industry.

For information about NGU and its academic programs, visit

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