Faculty spotlight on Gary Railsback

Meet the Faculty: Gary Railsback, Professor of Doctoral Studies and Methodology Coordinator at Concordia University–Portland

By The Room 241 Team May 31, 2019

We’re pleased to welcome Gary Railsback to the College of Education faculty team. As our new professor of doctoral studies and methodology coordinator, Gary will be working with EdD candidates and their faculty committees in the supervision of research methodologies for doctoral dissertation research. We interviewed Gary to learn more about him and his new role.

Who or what inspired you to work in education?

My family has a long line of educators — both of my parents were teachers, and each of them was raised by a teacher.  My mom’s mother was a teacher in rural Oklahoma at a one-room schoolhouse. My dad’s aunt, who raised him through high school and college, was a teacher at a rural school in Colorado. Being raised by teachers, I was determined to never be a teacher. After grad school, I was called to be the superintendent at a K-12 Christian school in Greeley, Colorado. After first arguing with God that I didn’t have a teaching license and wasn’t prepared for the task, the board convinced me that they needed me to help them in marketing, recruitment, and accreditation — three things I had been doing at the college level. Once I got into the high school classroom, I was hooked and have never looked back.

What made you interested in joining the Concordia community and the College of Education faculty?

I have worked with colleagues in Concordia’s College of Education for several years in my work at other Oregon universities, the Teachers Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC), and, most recently, with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. After commuting to Washington DC from Oregon for 18 months, I was determined to quit spending most of my time in airports. The doctorate of education program really interested me as it is innovative, based on Christian principles, and relevant for current educators.

What will you be working on at Concordia?

My major assignment is to work with doctoral students and their faculty committees as they select appropriate research methodologies to answer their dissertation research questions. Over the years I have supervised doctoral dissertations with various research methodologies and published case studies, including national surveys from both students and faculty.

What does it mean to be the methodology coordinator for the EdD program here at Concordia? What does this position entail?

The EdD program operates with three faculty supervising a candidate’s doctoral work. The dissertation chair leads the work and the methodologist is the expert on how the data will be gathered and analyzed. There are so many different research methodologies and most faculty have expertise in one or two, but not all of them. So this new position is responsible for hiring, training, and supervising faculty who will be full-time methodologists. 

What have you enjoyed so far in your experience at Concordia?

I have enjoyed reading a few dissertations that were completed and needed a final check. The topics are of great interest as doctoral candidates explore issues in schools and organizations and gather and analyze data in various ways. Hopefully, their research will be practical and improve learning and operations of schools, colleges, and other organizations and help Concordia fulfill the mission of “preparing leaders for the transformation of society.”

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