Dr. David M. Kopp and Shaquille O'Neal

After a distinguished career of 19 years in the NBA, earning 4 world titles, numerous MVP Awards and at least two platinum albums – Shaquille O’Neal is now tackling his next challenge — pursuing a PhD in Human Resource Development from Barry University. His “coach” on this journey is Dr. David M. Kopp, Associate Professor and Chair of the Human Resource Development graduate programs at the University.

A well-respected professional in his own right, he has consistently earned accolades of his students, is a Board of Director of the Academy of HRD, and is one of only a few academics in the State of Florida to also be credentialed as a Certified Performance and Learning Professional (CPLP).  We talked with Dr. Kopp about Shaq’s journey as well as the role advanced education plays in preparing HR professionals for a range of opportunities.

Q: Tell us about the Ph.D. program at Barry University and your role in the program.

DR. KOPP: The Barry University doctoral program that specializes in Human Resource Development (HRD) advances lifelong learning for students who want to further their knowledge in training and development and performance improvement, as well as, develop their competitive advantage as a vision-driven leader. Our students enjoy the opportunity to choose from a variety of elective courses to meet their professional and research interests.

Q. How does this program assist those looking to advance in the field of Human Resource Development?

DR. KOPP: At the graduate-level, we require an internship that pairs students up with local organizations for hands-on field experience so they can master the practice of training and development in the workplace.  At the doctoral-level, many students have interest in teaching human resource development at the college-level, so some students begin teaching part-time as adjunct instructors at local colleges, including Barry University.

Q. How exciting is it to have one of the world’s most recognizable and popular athletes as a student in your program at Barry University?

DR. KOPP: We have been gratified that Shaquille has chosen a Barry University doctoral degree as part of his post-retirement goals!  Indeed, we are appreciative of all our students who have chosen Barry for their educational pursuits.

Q. In addition to Shaq, you are an advisor or “coach” to many students, tell us how you assist your students throughout the program?  What makes learning at Barry Different?

DR. KOPP: I and the entire faculty here at Barry are committed to a personalized, collaborative environment where our students will feel supported at every level from admissions to graduation.  Working individually and collaboratively with faculty and classmates, students engage in building a supportive and caring community. Our students are geographically and culturally diverse, coming from multidisciplinary backgrounds. Truly, the student is not just a number here, but a life-long learning partner who appreciates practicing the discipline not only expertly, but ethically, too.

Q. What advice do you have HR professional seeking advanced degrees in HR Development?

DR. KOPP: Especially with the current recession, organizations will be looking for experts who can enhance performance through learning with even less financial resources, so a doctoral degree in human resource development will be very much sought out by today’s organizations, whether for-profit and non-profit.  Specially, with the doctoral degree HR professionals could look forward in such careers as:

  • College Professor
  • Independent Consultant
  • OD Professional
  • Chief Learning Officer
  • Corporate and Nonprofit Manager
  • Human Service Professional
  • Public Policy Maker
  • Government Agency Director
  • Human Resource Director
  • Researcher

To learn more about Dr. Kopp visit any one of the links below: