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PhD Landings: Two Friends Heading to Pepperdine

June 06, 2012

PhDs can lead to great things, including sun, sand and surf.

Two of the seven students receiving doctoral degrees from Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business at commencement later this month have accepted positions with Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.  Robert Lee, a PhD in accounting student, and Mark Tribbitt, a PhD in management student, are close friends, and say they are glad to be heading out to the West Coast together.

“Our entire cohort got to know each other pretty well, but Robert and I developed a really strong relationship over the past five years,” says Mark, who is originally from Southern New Jersey and Delaware. “It's funny. We both won teaching awards last year, and I remember him telling me that it was a sign that we would end up at the same school.  Surprisingly, it happened.  I didn't think there was a chance that I would have ever ended up in California.  I would have been willing to bet that I wouldn't have ended up there.”

Robert agrees. “I feel very fortunate to have had a close friend throughout this Ph.D. process,” he says of Mark. “I am very excited for us to go to Pepperdine together.  I have been in Philadelphia almost my entire life, and the thought of moving to California is exciting, yet daunting.  It's reassuring to know that Mark will be around the corner from me.” The two will be living only 10 minutes away from each other.  

Asked if they have plans to take up surfing, both say no, but Robert adds that might change if his son asks him to. “My family is looking forward to the great weather and being able to do outdoor activities together,” he says. Mark also plans to take up more outdoor activities such as biking and running.   

Other PhD Landings

Also heading west after graduation are PhD in finance student Wenjing Ouyang, who accepted a position with University of the Pacific in California, and marketing Ph.D. student Marina Puzakova, who has accepted a position with Oregon State University. Puzakova was also named a recipient of the Drexel University Outstanding Dissertation Award for the Social Sciences for her dissertation, titled “When Humanizing Brands Goes Wrong: The Detrimental Role of Brand Anthropomorphization Amidst Product Wrongdoings.”

Two of the graduates will be heading south. Ross Roberts, a PhD in accounting student, has accepted a position with Highpoint University in North Carolina, and Luciana Costa, a PhD in economics student originally from Brazil, has accepted a position with Fucape Business School in Vitória, Brazil.

Staying local to the Philadelphia area, David Pedersen, a PhD in finance student, has accepted a position with West Chester University.


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The past year was one of both change and continuity for Drexel LeBow. The biggest change occurred in the dean’s office, with George P. Tsetsekos, Ph.D., stepping down after 10 years at the helm. Our former dean remains with us as the George B. Francis Professor of Finance and the trajectory he established for LeBow College of Business continues to be realized through the achievements of 2012. Here are just a few highlights.

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Two Ph.D. students have recently been honored for their exceptional work at Drexel LeBow. Fifth-year Ph.D. candidate, Monique Bell, has won Drexel University’s 2013 Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation award, and Thomas Zylkin, an Economics Ph.D. student, has been recognized with Drexel's 2013 Graduate Teaching Excellence Award.