The Long Road: Dissertation, doctorate doesn’t end drive to learn

It has taken a long time but former Halliday High School graduate Chad Dahlen was able to fulfill a dream in December when he received a
doctorate from the University of North Dakota while also coaching Killdeer’s girls basketball team. Herald photo / Brad Mosher

It has taken thousands of hours of work and hundreds of hours driving, but Killdeer girls basketball coach Chad Dahlen may have picked up his biggest ‘win’ of the season when he earned his doctorate in mid-December.

By Brad Mosher

The Herald

On Dec. 13, he received his doctorate at University of North Dakota’s commencement ceremonies.

It was the final step in a long journey.

“I traveled to Bismarck… It was educational leadership class out of the University of North Dakota. The professor would met us in Bismarck almost every weekend for almost the three years we worked on it in classes.

“The last part was working on my dissertation,” Dahlen explained. “It was the last year and a half to two years.”

Dahlen had a very focused subject for his dissertation. “It was Inter-generational Perspectives of Leadership from the Three Affiliated Tribes members,” he said. “It was a look at leadership from Three Tribes members and how it compares to the Western World’s viewpoints when it comes to leadership,” he said.

Chad Dahlen not only guided the Cowboys into the girls regional tournament, but was able to earn his doctorate from the University of North Dakota this season. File photo

The dissertation looks at the common factors when it comes to leadership in the different societies, Dahlen explained.

“I tried to tie in some Michael Fullan. He is an educational leader who has done a lot of writing and I tried to tie in a lot of his writings,” the Killdeer girls coach added, noting especially some of the Canadian author and educator’s comments about leadership.

One of the differences Dahlen cited was in the value placed on storytelling. “It wasn’t a narrative. It was more of a portraiture study. It was through their eyes and I let them tell the stories,” he said.

“I did my best to paint the picture of how I perceived what they saw.

“It was the first one that was done at UND using the portraiture method of study. That is kind of cool.”

As a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, it was that leadership which drew Dahlen to the premise of his dissertation.

“I have always been intrigued with leadership. I thought that would be a great way to tie it into our native community to see what lessons we can learn and what lessons I can bring back to the native community as far as how we can improve leadership in the tribes, What are the little things that we can do throuh the eyes of these professional men.

“They all had at least their bachelors degreeand they were all leaders in their fields, from social work to electrical engineering, civil engineering. It was really cool to bring in all those areas and that you could see the different perspectives,” he explained.

Dahlen added that he will be presenting a copy of the dissertation to the MHA community college in the near future. “We are also looking at doing a symposium at the University of North Dakota and maybe do another one back in New Town.”

Looking toward the future, there may be some opportunities to do some consulting with some educational institutions, he said, noting that he still wanted to be active in his community at home as well.

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