Dissertation Defense Announcements

Candidate Name: Rex A. Mangiaracina
Title: A Qualitative Study of the Perceptions of Beginning PK-12 Public Education Teachers on Defined Benefit Retirement Plans
 October 28, 2020  1:00 PM
Location: https://uncc.webex.com/meet/whhart
Abstract:

ABSTRACT

REX A. MANGIARACINA. A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF THE PERCEPTIONS OF BEGINNING PK–12 PUBLIC EDUCATION TEACHERS ON DEFINED BENEFIT RETIREMENT PLANS. (Under the direction of DR. WALTER HART.)

The significance of this study was its ability to further inform beginning PK–12 public education teachers and policy makers on the issue of teacher compensation. More specifically, the study shed light on beginning teachers’ limited understanding of their defined benefit (DB) retirement plans. The purpose of this basic interpretive qualitative study was to gain additional insight and further explore the perceptions and understanding of these teachers about their DB retirement plans. The study sought further understanding as to what these teachers knew about their DB retirement plans, how they developed this understanding, how this understanding impacted their sense of financial security upon retirement, and what if any effect this understanding had in terms of impacting their career decisions. A basic interpretative qualitative study, the researcher’s data sources for this study involved semi-structured, one-on-one interviews with beginning PK–12 public education teachers. Results of the study indicate that these teachers lacked clarity about their existing DB retirement plan as well as understanding of retirement plan options more broadly. Results indicate a struggle for these teachers to establish a relationship between their retirement benefits and financial security as well as the ability to make informed career decisions based on adequate understanding of retirement plan options. Implications included the need for related professional development for beginning teachers characterized by strategic planning, delivery, and ongoing evaluation along with the need for additional research.



Candidate Name: Ahmet Nart
Title: THREE ESSAYS ON MANAGERIAL INCENTIVES
 October 16, 2020  11:00 AM
Location: https://uncc.webex.com/uncc/j.php?MTID=m2aeae58d306b80b1361bbbef1962e429
Abstract:

The dissertation consists of three essays. The first essay examines how a tournament among CEOs to progress within the CEO labor market changes their tendency toward corporate hedging policies. We exploit the textual analysis of 10-Ks to generate corporate hedging proxies. We find that the likelihood and intensity to hedge increases as the CEO labor market tournament prizes augment. We explore the mitigating impacts of corporate hedging on the adverse effects of risk-inducing industry tournament incentives (ITIs) on the cost of debt and stock price crash risk, which could be the possible reasons for the relation. Also, the relation between ITIs and corporate hedging is less pronounced for firms that demonstrate more financial distress and when CEOs are the founders or of retirement age. We identify a causal relation between ITIs and corporate hedging by using an instrumental variable approach and an exogenous shock sourced by the changes in the enforceability of non-competition agreements across states.

In the second essay, the effects of internal tournament incentives (ITTIs) on reserve management, performance and risk-taking in property-liability insurance firms are studied. We find that a positive relation between ITTIs and reserve errors, implying that a higher tournament prize is associated with more conservative loss reserve management. Unlike the literature on non-financial firms, we do not find a positive relation between ITTIs and risk-taking behavior or performance. The overall evidence indicates that VPs in tournaments focus on the strong financial health, not performance. Moreover, we find the positive impact of ITTIs on conservative reserve management is more pronounced for larger, financially weaker and more geographically focused firms, and is mitigated for insurers with a higher percentage of claim loss reserve over total liability. Our results also suggest that the Sarbanes Oxley Act does not significantly impact reserve behaviors of executives. Finally, we find that insurers with more independent board members are likely to have more conservative reserve behavior in internal tournaments.

In the third essay, we investigate the relation between executive pay duration and the cost of debt. We find a positive relation between equity-based pay duration (Equity PD) and loan spread, implying that loan spread is increasing in a larger Equity PD. However, we explore a negative relation between equity&debt-based pay duration (Whole PD) and loan spread, which shows that debt-like compensation contributes to the agency conflict between managers and creditors not only through their sizes but also through their durations. Also, we illustrate that the executive labor market is a channel that drives the relations of both Equity PD and Whole PD with the cost of debt. Risk and information asymmetry channels are the other channels through which Equity PD impacts the cost of debt. Lastly, we show the association between Whole PD and borrowing costs is more pronounced for firms with better corporate governance and past performance.



Candidate Name: Andrea Swintal
Title: The Transfer Seminar: Measured Impacts on Transfer Student Outcomes
 November 02, 2020  1:00 PM
Location: Virtual: Contact chowel22@uncc.edu for the Zoom link
Abstract:

The volume of transfer students across college and university campuses in the United States continues to rise; however, institutions continue to struggle with identifying and applying best practices that encourage these students to earn their baccalaureate degree at rates comparable to their non-transferring peers. Prior research suggests many students experience transfer shock upon entering their new institution and that their performance outcomes may vary depending on their academic and social integration experiences (Cejda et al., 1998; Diaz, 1992; Eels, 1927; Hills, 1965; Ishitani, 2008; Knoell & Medsker, 1965; Laanan, 2001; Martorana & Williams, 1954; Nickens, 1972). To overcome these challenges, Tinto (1988, 1993) articulated the importance of integration, a key objective of the course studied in this research, as a means to more seamlessly assimilate into the new community resulting in a stronger institutional commitment, improved performance, and increased levels of retention. Further, Schlossberg (2011) built upon this concept utilizing her 4 S model to articulate the significance of support and strategies that individuals use to cope with and mitigate the challenges associated with periods of transition. Taken together, the transfer seminar course studied is seen as an interventional support and strategy aimed at improving the academic and social integration experience to potentially produce increased levels of success for transfer students.

The primary purpose of the current study was to measure the impact that a transfer seminar course had on individuals that participated in the course during their first semester of enrollment at the receiving institution, a large, public four-year state institution in the Southeastern United States. This quasi-experimental, quantitative study analyzed the impact of participation in a non-required transfer seminar course during the first semester of matriculation, post-transfer, and compared the grade point averages (GPA) and rates of persistence at the end of the first semester and first year with a matched sample of non-course participants to evaluate course impact. A total of 824 students, including 412 students in each of the treatment and control groups from Fall 2013 through Fall 2018 were evaluated utilizing descriptive and inferential statistical analyses.

The findings of the study revealed that the course participants exhibited a statistically significant difference in their GPA at the end of the first semester, but the difference in GPAs at the end of the first year had diminished and was non-statistically significant. The results further support that at the end of the first semester and at the end of the first year, rates of persistence were non-statistically significantly different for participants in comparison to non-participants. The conclusions presented suggest that the course provides only a short term positive gain for participants and may be most beneficial in assisting students transitioning into the new academic community, however, additional research is needed to identify resources, supports, strategies, and interventions that encourage greater levels of success over the long term period of matriculation through to graduation.



Candidate Name: Rachael Forester
Title: "In the contradiction lies the hope": White student affairs administrators' understanding of whiteness
 October 22, 2020  10:00 AM
Location: Virtual: Contact chowel22@uncc.edu for the Zoom link
Abstract:

Among white people, there is a pervasive mentality that color-evasiveness (Bonilla-Silva, 2003) is an ideal approach to racial equity, meaning many white student affairs professionals may equate refusing to see race as synonymous with being anti-racist. The narrative that white people do not see color is problematic and inaccurate when, in actuality, it serves to maintains white dominance and white supremacy. In order to promote racial equity on college campuses, race needs to be illuminated, recognized, and reckoned with by white people to counter this ideology. The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand how white student affairs administrators describe being white and how whiteness impacts their work in student affairs. Utilizing ontological expansiveness, a critical phenomenological methodology, the researcher interviewed nine white student affairs administrators at a historically white university in the Southeast region of the United States. This university has established diversity and inclusion as one of its top values. All nine participants completed two semi-structured interviews. Data analysis methods included several line-by-line readings and the development of a code-book utilizing the conceptual framework of whiteness and essential concepts from the literature. As a result, six themes with corresponding sub-themes emerged: distance and proximity: the other side of the tracks, navigating judgement, values of whiteness, performative commitment, racism (in)action, and student affairs indoctrination. This study exemplified the ways whiteness permeated the division of student affairs, allowing for an in-depth understanding of the need for political and structural change, as well the need for genuine and authentic commitment by student affairs towards anti-racism.



Candidate Name: Emily Wheeler
Title: Navigating genderization: Women's perceptions of career advancement into senior-level student affairs roles
 October 26, 2020  10:00 AM
Location: Virtual: Contact chowel22@uncc.edu for the Zoom link
Abstract:

While women have attained higher-level roles and greater representation in higher education administrator roles, the concept of the higher, the fewer (Nidiffer, 2002) represents the “gendered prestige hierarchies” (Allan, 2011, p. 58) that limit women’s representation at more prestigious institutions while bolstering representation at institutions of greater access. In student affairs, women represent a majority of all professionals in the field, though representation in senior student affairs officer roles has not increased significantly since the 1980s (Blackhurst, 2000), with women more likely to advance at institutions with fewer than 1,000 students (Rickard, 1985a). While extensive research exists that illustrates the disparities for women in higher education and academic affairs, little comparable research exists for women in student affairs.

This qualitative study sought to understand how women in senior-level student affairs positions have navigated their experiences and career paths in order to advance to their current roles. Using critical and post-structural feminist perspectives of power, the researcher utilized a critical phenomenological approach to consider how nine women in senior-level student affairs positions in large, public institutions understood their career advancement. Participants completed two semi-structured interviews. The resulting themes include an encompassing theme of genderization, as well as four embedded themes: the person on the path, achieving through and with others, conflicting messages of competence and value, and overtasked and alone. Implications of the study require that policy, practice, and research all examine the ways that genderization perpetuates masculine-centered norms and power dynamics that penalize women for deviating from those norms. For current or aspiring student affairs leaders, organizational constructs must be dismantled in order to disrupt internalized genderization by women.



Candidate Name: Emily Wheeler
Title: Navigating genderization: Women's perceptions of career advancement into senior-level student affairs roles
 October 26, 2020  10:00 AM
Location: Virtual: Contact chowel22@uncc.edu for the Zoom link
Abstract:

While women have attained higher-level roles and greater representation in higher education administrator roles, the concept of the higher, the fewer (Nidiffer, 2002) represents the “gendered prestige hierarchies” (Allan, 2011, p. 58) that limit women’s representation at more prestigious institutions while bolstering representation at institutions of greater access. In student affairs, women represent a majority of all professionals in the field, though representation in senior student affairs officer roles has not increased significantly since the 1980s (Blackhurst, 2000), with women more likely to advance at institutions with fewer than 1,000 students (Rickard, 1985a). While extensive research exists that illustrates the disparities for women in higher education and academic affairs, little comparable research exists for women in student affairs.

This qualitative study sought to understand how women in senior-level student affairs positions have navigated their experiences and career paths in order to advance to their current roles. Using critical and post-structural feminist perspectives of power, the researcher utilized a critical phenomenological approach to consider how nine women in senior-level student affairs positions in large, public institutions understood their career advancement. Participants completed two semi-structured interviews. The resulting themes include an encompassing theme of genderization, as well as four embedded themes: the person on the path, achieving through and with others, conflicting messages of competence and value, and overtasked and alone. Implications of the study require that policy, practice, and research all examine the ways that genderization perpetuates masculine-centered norms and power dynamics that penalize women for deviating from those norms. For current or aspiring student affairs leaders, organizational constructs must be dismantled in order to disrupt internalized genderization by women.



Candidate Name: Brandy Stamper
Title: Renegotiating Identity: Understanding the Communicative Negotiation of Community College Transfer Student Identities
 October 29, 2020  10:00 AM
Location: Virtual: Contact chowel22@uncc.edu for the Zoom Link
Abstract:

This phenomenological study explored the identity experiences of fifteen community college transfer (CCT) students one year after they transitioned to a large, public four-year institution. The purpose of the study was to understand how CCT students’ lived experiences inform their student identities. The communication theory of identity (CTI), served as the study’s theoretical framework, focusing on the manifestation of identities through communicative interactions and expressions with others. Primary data collection occurred through two rounds of semi-structured interviews with each participant. Data analysis followed a procedure of categorizing the participants' statements into meaning units that represented the layers of identity being examined. The process of data categorization, reduction, and theme identification resulted in two overarching themes, four subthemes, and 16 distinct identity manifestations. The first theme demonstrated that CCT students engage in careful and purposeful positive student identity development behaviors while in community college. The second overall theme illustrated how CCT students renegotiated their previously formed student identities at their four-year receiving institution. The study's findings provide possible student engagement and institutional-based suggestions on how to serve CCT students. The conclusions drawn from the study and their implications for theory and practice are also presented.



Candidate Name: Julia Simonsen
Title: Diffusion Processes on Solvable Groups of Upper Triangular 3x3 matrices. Applications in Asian and Basket Options
 October 21, 2020  3:00 PM
Location: https://uncc.zoom.us/j/97911667123?pwd=UWt2SXBPVi8yRjN2V1BKR3hNTnNMQT09
Abstract:

One of the questions in algebraic groups is about the asymptotic behavior of the probability of return of a random walk, which closely related on the growth rate of a group. Upper-triangular matrices form a group. Solvable groups have an exponential growth rate and it was shown that the asymptotic behavior of the probability of return on these groups has a fractional-exponential decal. The results in the paper by Molchanov and others, are different from the previous finding. They showed that in the case of solvable groups of upper-triangular 2x2 matrices the return probability of the Brownian motions has a polynomial decay. In this dissertation, we extended this research to the case of solvable groups of upper-triangular 3x3 matrices. The elements in the 3x3 matrices that define a Brownian motion on these groups contain integrals of geometric Brownian motions. These integrals have an important role in Asian and Asian-Basket options. We proved some properties of these integrals and showed that certain cases of geometric Asian-basket call options with two assets have a higher risk that the same type of put options. Which implies that some trading strategies might benefit from a reevaluation using a new risk assessment of geometric Asian-Basket.



Candidate Name: Nicholas Horvath
Title: Integration of advanced manufacturing in the mechanical design of reflective optics
 October 05, 2020  9:30 PM
Location: Committee in person/Stream via MS Teams
Abstract:

This dissertation comprises a series of authored papers, delineated by Chapter, which include advanced manufacturing, both techniques and processes, throughout the design processes for the future development of high quality reflective optics. The dissertation includes a novel kinematic mount design used for manufacturing and metrology of a freeform optic, an experimental study on additively manufactured silicon carbide for optical applications, and a new design methodology for higher efficiency lightweight mirrors considering additive manufacturing as the main process chain. Freeform optics, additive manufacturing, and silicon carbide mirrors are disruptive technologies independently. The work described in this dissertation merges these disruptive technologies into a systematic framework that has the potential to revolutionize both the manufacturing process chain and the mechanical design of lightweight mirrors. The combination of the three papers of this dissertation lays foundational work in reflective optics for overcoming manufacturing challenges, and for advancing mechanical design in consideration of advanced manufacturing. The result is a significant advancement in the state of the art for the creation of silicon carbide, additively manufactured, high efficiency, freeform reflective optics.

Please Email nhorvat1@uncc.edu with subject line "Dissertation Defense" for the Teams information.



Candidate Name: Nicholas Horvath
Title: Integration of advanced manufacturing in the mechanical design of reflective optics
 October 05, 2020  9:30 PM
Location: Committee in person/Stream via MS Teams
Abstract:

This dissertation comprises a series of authored papers, delineated by Chapter, which include advanced manufacturing, both techniques and processes, throughout the design processes for the future development of high quality reflective optics. The dissertation includes a novel kinematic mount design used for manufacturing and metrology of a freeform optic, an experimental study on additively manufactured silicon carbide for optical applications, and a new design methodology for higher efficiency lightweight mirrors considering additive manufacturing as the main process chain. Freeform optics, additive manufacturing, and silicon carbide mirrors are disruptive technologies independently. The work described in this dissertation merges these disruptive technologies into a systematic framework that has the potential to revolutionize both the manufacturing process chain and the mechanical design of lightweight mirrors. The combination of the three papers of this dissertation lays foundational work in reflective optics for overcoming manufacturing challenges, and for advancing mechanical design in consideration of advanced manufacturing. The result is a significant advancement in the state of the art for the creation of silicon carbide, additively manufactured, high efficiency, freeform reflective optics.