Jonathan Stoessel ’09/M.A.E. ’12, a doctoral candidate in the higher education leadership, management and policy program, began his career as a College of Education and Human Services student more than 10 years ago as an undergraduate. On May 14, he will walk across the stage at the College’s Doctoral Commencement and Hooding Ceremony after successfully defending his dissertation on social media policy in early March.
Stoessel considers Seton Hall a family tradition with several family members having graduated from the University, including: his sister Jennifer Stoessel M.A. ’06, wife Marisa Amador ’09, uncle Matthew Stoessel ’99/M.A. ’01 and aunt Susan (Stoessel) Smith ’88. His Seton Hall journey began as an undergraduate studying secondary education and history. He then earned his M.A.E. in Instructional Design and Technology before being accepted to the College’s Ph.D. in Higher Education, Leadership, Management and Policy program. Today, he serves as an institutional research analyst at Princeton University.
“The best part about Seton Hall is its sense of community and Catholic tradition,” said Stoessel. “The University has a good core community of individuals pursuing the same common goal of seeking knowledge and provides a small, intimate setting for reaching your goals. Faculty, administrators and staff follow your journey and care about your success from beginning to end. I had faculty and staff members that I met when I was a freshman giving me hugs and supporting me after I defended my dissertation, more than 10 years later.”
Stoessel’s dissertation “Social media policy implications in higher education: Do faculty, administration, and staff have a place in the ‘social network’?” aimed to provide researchers and policymakers with a better understanding of social media and social media policy in higher education as it relates to the experiences of faculty, administration and staff. He conducted survey research at 48 New Jersey institutions and found that faculty, administration and staff desired to play a role in the policymaking process and sought more resources for creating a positive social media environment. He hopes his study inspires scholars and fellow students to continue social media policy research and plans to publish and present his work in the future.
Stoessel credits his recent success to the faculty in the Ph.D. in Higher Education, Leadership, Management and Policy program, including his mentor and dissertation adviser Assistant Professor Robert Kelchen and his dissertation committee members Program Director and Associate Professor Rong Chen and Professor Martin Finkelstein.
“From our first core group of courses, faculty members have a way of building you up towards believing that you can accomplish your coursework and dissertation step-by-step by finding something you are incredibility interested in. They see it in you before you even see it in yourself,” said Stoessel.
He provided examples by sharing that his professors and courses inspired his dissertation topic and career. “My very first course in the Ph.D. program was Dr. Chen’s Policy Analysis class. She encouraged me to do a literature review on social media policy and that was the root for me following the topic throughout the program,” he explained. “When Dr. Chen and Kelchen co-taught a special topics course on institutional research, I was so drawn to the field that I eventually pursued it as my career.”
It was in forming those relationships with his professors that Stoessel realized he wanted to work with Kelchen for his dissertation. “Dr. Kelchen’s productivity, in terms of commenting on current issues in higher education and participating in scholarly research while maintaining a high standard of teaching, is incredible,” he said. “He was good at pushing me when I needed it and holding me back when I needed a break. It was the perfect balance for a dissertation adviser and I very much valued him as my mentor.”
“Jonathan and I both have an interest in social media,” said Kelchen, who was recently named a top 15 academic social media influencer by The Chronicle of Higher Education. “I worked with him to turn his general idea into a full-fledged proposal and eventually an important, inventive dissertation by developing his passion for research and data.”
“Our program encourages you to pursue your research topic beyond your dissertation because it is supposed to be food for further thought that branches into new avenues for future research,” said Stoessel. “They do not want you to just pick a topic and be done. They want to keep in touch with you and make sure it turns into a valuable product for your career.”
“We want our students to develop their research interests and feel part of a community of learning while completing their dissertations and after,” said Kelchen. “Preparing and presenting a dissertation helps students cultivate analytical skills, execute effective presentations and contribute to gaps in research. I look forward to watching Jonathan graduate in May and to working with future students.”
Stoessel reflected on his time at Seton Hall which included serving as one of the baseball team’s managers and being a graduate assistant in the College’s field placement office. “Most, if not all of my good fortune, in the past few years has come from my 10 year career as a student in the College of Education and Human Services,” he said. “I met my wife on my first day on campus freshman year, married her in the chapel two Septembers ago and reached my ultimate goal on March 9 by defending my dissertation. I want to thank the University, my professors, staff and fellow students for making me a better student, writer, educator and researcher and for watching me literally grow up in the College of Education and Human Services.”
For more information about the College of Education and Human Services and the Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership, Management and Policy program, please click here.