For many doctoral candidates, preparing for and defending a dissertation is one of the most stressful times of their lives. The same was true for Catherine Cole, but thanks to support from her family – including a former associate dean in the College of Education and Human Development – her story is extra special.
Cole successfully defended her dissertation regarding women as vital human resources May 16, 2016. Her family, including Dr. Bryan Cole, was there to cheer her on and to celebrate her successful defense. They also helped carry on a tradition that started in the Educational and Human Resources Department 16 years ago.
“Once the student has successfully defended, either the chair of the committee or someone else will lead a small parade around the department ringing the bell,” explained Dr. Cole. “People will come out of their offices and congratulate the study. It’s a nice activity that goes beyond just saying ‘good job.’”
Dr. Cole, now retired, took part in several bell ringing ceremonies during his time in the College of Education and Human Development. He wanted to make his final ceremony one that his daughter-in-law, Catherine Cole, would cherish.
“She’s a very special person and we wanted to do something that would be a memento from us as well as a memento that represented the tradition within the department,” explained Dr. Cole.
Catherine Cole had no idea her father-in-law was waiting outside to lead the parade and present her with her very own bell, engraved with her name and the date of her successful defense.
“The bell is super special. I know we ring the bell in the department as a tradition but I didn’t know he would be ringing the bell and I didn’t know I would get my own bell with my name on it,” said Cole.
Dr. Bryan Cole has a long history with the College of Education and Human Development. He received both his master’s and doctorate from Texas A&M. During the first year of his master’s program, he was asked by the dean at the time, Dr. Frank Hubert, to serve as assistant to the dean. Later, Dr. Cole made the decision to continue to his doctorate studies in higher education administration. He continued working in the college under Dr. Hubert and later under Dr. Dean Corrigan before choosing to become a full-time faculty member in educational administration.
“I completed 56 doctoral students. My very last student, who finished two years ago now, presented me with a bell as an expression of his appreciation. That touched me so much that I wanted to do a similar thing for Catherine.”