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EU Professor of Kinesiology earns doctorate with dissertation on the impact of hope on successful strategic plan implementation

Published on Apr 22, 2021 by Erin Hedlun



Dr. Sarah Walters

SPRINGFIELD, Missouri – Dr. Sarah Walters, assistant professor of kinesiology and program coordinator of the Master of Organizational Leadership (MOL) degree, recently earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership from Regent University.

Walters’ dissertation examined the validity and reliability of a survey developed in 2008 that focused on the impact of an employee’s level of hope related to the success of an organization’s strategic plan implementation.

“The workplace and research world lacked a valid and reliable instrument to help leaders measure hope.” said Walters. “I was able to examine the data provided through my dissertation and found the survey is in fact valid and reliable, and remarkably so at that.

“I’m excited for what this means within the workplace. For the first time, there is a survey available to organizational leaders that measures the level of employees’ hope. Leaders can now begin implementing this survey into their strategic planning process.”

The survey that Walters validated works to identify employees who show a propensity for being action-oriented and who are likely to take ownership in implementing an organization’s strategic plan.

While just one part of a comprehensive approach to strategic planning, gaining insight into the level of employee buy-in is a critical piece of information for leaders to access.

Walters began teaching at EU in 2011, though her connection to the university began while earning her master’s degree in organizational leadership. During her time as a student, she worked in the Athletic Department, and this work parlayed into a full-time teaching position.

Through her innovative program development and focused energy, Walters has grown the Kinesiology Department into a strong recruiting source for the university. Using her passion for the field of athletic training, she served as the head athletic trainer from 2011-2016.

“Sarah’s potential is easily recognizable,” said Dr. Keith Hardy, Kinesiology Department chair. “Her faith, work ethic, positive attitude, and leadership skills are an attribute to the university. She is an outstanding person and a great colleague to work with.”

Under her leadership, the university secured accreditation for its Kinesiology bachelor’s and master’s professional programs with the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education.

Due to her passion for leadership development and her related doctoral work, Walters was asked to take on the role of program coordinator for the MOL degree on an interim basis in 2019, and became the permanent coordinator in 2020.

“Our MOL graduates are leaders in executive roles and middle management in a variety of professional settings.” Said Walters. “Leadership spans all areas of one’s life, and that’s something we specifically focus on in the MOL program. We want students to not only develop professionally, but personally as well.”

Walters is a certified athletic trainer and serves as a PRN athletic trainer for Cox Health. She holds membership in a variety of organizations, including the International Leadership Association, Society for Human Resource Management, and the National, Mid-America, and Missouri Athletic Trainers Associations.

She is also active within the community, volunteering her time to serve as an assistant coach with the 417 Juniors Volleyball Club, event planning with Ozarks Teen Challenge, serving her local church, and as a previous Red Cross instructor.

In addition to her doctoral degree, Walters holds a Master of Organizational Leadership from EU and a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from the University of Central Arkansas.



About Evangel University

Evangel University, with the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the Church and society globally. Evangel and AGTS serve more than 2,200 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 70 undergraduate majors and 19 master and doctoral degrees.