Dr. Yvonne Doll shares how she strives to ignite the fires of learning and excellence in the minds and hearts of students.

By Camille LeFevre
August 2013

Dr. Yvonne Doll.
Dr. Yvonne Doll.

Dr. Yvonne Doll has displayed extraordinary initiative in her academic and professional life. The School of Management faculty member was in the second class that admitted women at West Point, where she played on the women’s basketball, softball, and volleyball teams. She selected the military police corps in the U.S. Army for her service and, for 26 years, worked around the world as a security officer, criminal investigator, operations officer, comptroller, commander, and leadership teacher. Doll also married, raised three children, and earned a doctorate in management. Here she talks about how her background inspired her transition into teaching.

HOW DID SPORTS CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR EDUCATION? Many of the men at West Point still didn’t like the fact that women were allowed in when I attended. The hardest part was the emotional stress and hazing from the upperclassmen. It was also challenging academically because I was competing with all the A students. Even for the guys, the first year is stressful. Participating in sports was a great way to reduce the high levels of stress I had. Today, I encourage my students and fellow faculty members to find similar outlets for stress reduction and balance. Obtaining a graduate degree is extremely challenging, but it can be done with a positive attitude, good time management, and the support of family and friends.

HOW HAS YOUR MILITARY BACKGROUND INFORMED YOUR TEACHING AT WALDEN? During my last job in the Army, I taught military leadership courses to officers from all over the world, including Saudi Arabia, Poland, Columbia, the Philippines, Mali, and the Czech Republic. I developed a very participative, student-centered teaching philosophy. Adult learners have extremely valuable multicultural experiences to share in class. I also have a wealth of leadership war stories from my years in the Army that I share with my students; I’ve worked for excellent leaders, toxic leaders, and everything in between. All of these experiences inform my teaching at Walden. What I strive to do every day is ignite the fires of learning and excellence in the minds and hearts of students.

HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE YOUR STUDENTS TO ACHIEVE A SIMILAR LEVEL OF SUCCESS? I work hard to show students how to achieve breakthroughs by presenting inspiring ideas, pointing them to valuable resources, and providing opportunities for initiative and excellence. For instance, one of my students from Kuwait completed his D.B.A. in July; we crafted an article together that we’ve submitted to an academic journal. Even if you have a doctorate, I think it’s vital to be a lifelong learner. I encourage my students to pick a topic they have a passion for and share their research with others by publishing. Adding to the body of knowledge is so important. Craft your dissertation or doctoral study into a good eight- to 10-page paper and submit it to academic journals. I’ve found that through these methods, you can achieve greatness.