A former U.S. Army and NASA consultant who left the field to pursue his passion in higher education was recently honored as an Outstanding Doctoral Student from a prestigious higher education administration program.
Dr. Edward Serna of Fort Smith, director of grants management and compliance at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, was chosen as an outstanding student from the University of Alabama’s Higher Education Administration doctoral program.
A 2015 graduate, Serna was recognized for his academic work in the program, which was created in 2006 and has graduated more than 100 doctoral students working at campuses and non-profits across more than 20 states.
Prior to entering higher education, Serna forged a career as a project manager through his work with Science & Engineering Services in Huntsville, Ala. Previously, he spent seven years as a strategy and organization associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he served as a consultant for the U.S. Army and NASA.
When he began teaching as an adjunct instructor in 2007, he discovered a passion for higher education and began pursuing his doctorate at the University of Alabama in 2012. He came to UAFS in 2015 after a year as an assistant professor of management at Athens State University.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with students, and I was drawn to a state university like UAFS that is small enough to make a lasting impact,” Serna said. “We are on the front lines of higher education, and we have to do more with less to serve the students who most need us.”
The mission of the Higher Education Program is to prepare students to hold senior leadership positions in two- and four-year colleges and universities through scholarly research and practical application within the field of higher education. Serna’s dissertation focused on the academic dean’s perspective of financial management responses to decreasing state appropriations.
Serna earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Winthrop University, a master’s degree in industrial management from Clemson University and a master’s degree in information systems from Auburn University prior to his doctorate from the University of Alabama.