The Motor City may be 1,070 miles from Norman, but that hardly mattered for Duane McLean, senior vice president of business operations for the Detroit Tigers. McLean, OU master of liberal studies alum, traversed Indiana, Illinois and Missouri via the Web to earn his degree.
“I was impressed by how easy it was to complete the program entirely from Detroit,” he said. “As much as I would have liked to visit, my schedule didn’t permit it, but in terms of being able to balance my education, it worked out really well.”
His degree, however, was not always so within reach. McLean had a baseball scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and after completing his four years of school and eligibility, it was necessary to find a job.
“I wanted to continue my education, but I didn’t have the financial wherewithal to do so,” he said.
On his 40th birthday, while working as senior vice president of business operations for the Seattle Seahawks football organization, McLean made a decision. He chose to apply to the College of Liberal Studies master’s degree program in administrative leadership.
“I treated myself to that birthday present,” he said. “I just wanted to do it for myself. I felt it was important, at least it was important to me, and it was important that I emphasize to my kids that education was important. Regardless of how long it takes, there is always time.”
He did some research online, spoke with college staff and felt comfortable that OU was an institution from which he would be proud to graduate with a master’s degree. The hardest part of the application process for McLean was writing the admissions essay. He said he was out of the paper-writing mindset for so long that he was given an opportunity to rewrite his paper, and he did much better.
“After I got back in the swing of it, [the program] progressively got easier for me. I believe there is a certain skill set mindset when you are in school, and I had been away from it for so long that it took me a while to get back into it,” he said.
“Many of the things that I have learned [and] many of the classes I have taken broadened my perspective on things that I do every day in a leadership position. I found something useful [in] everyday class I took and applied to my current job.”
Along with new skills came a new appreciation for the process of learning, McLean added, maturing from the view he held in his 20s. He enjoys lessons more and gets more out of them than he did when he was younger.
“Everybody has their own reasons for wanting to continue their education,” McLean said. “In my case, it wasn’t necessarily for economic benefit or career advancement. I was to continue my education for myself because I never had a chance to do that. That’s the mindset I had and the goal I had in mind.”
McLean graduated with a Master of Arts in Administrative Leadership in December 2005.