Dr. Debra (Kennedy) Gearhart
Deb (Kennedy) Gearhart, a 1972 graduate of TAHS, has made lifelong learning her passion. Deb has built a career in distance education, currently serving as Director of E-Education Services at Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota.
After leaving Tyrone High School, Deb attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania receiving a BA in Sociology. Deb starting working at Penn State University where she received a M.P.A. in Public Administration and a M. Ed. in Adult Education. Deb received her Ph.D. in Education from Capella University.
Deb has worked for 18 years in distance education, 10 years at Penn State and over eight at Dakota State University. As the founding director of the e-learning program at DSU, the program has experienced an 853.349% enrollment increase. This successful program offers an AS and BS in Health Information Administration, a master’s in Information Systems, a master’s in Educational Technology, a high school fast track program, along with multiple courses in the undergraduate programs.
In addition to being director of the e-learning program Deb is also an Assistant Professor in the college of Education, teaching graduate courses in the Master’s of Education Technology program at Dakota State University, a distance delivered graduate program. Deb has seen adult and distance education through many lenses, as a distance student herself, as a distance faculty member and as a distance program administrator. It is from these experiences that she has developed her love of helping non-traditional students obtain their educational goals. Deb’s research interests are in distance education, ethics in the computer age, and copyright issues.
Deb and her husband Jerry have two married sons and three grandchildren. Jerry, originally from Port Matilda, works for Bob’s Electric of Madison. Deb’s hobbies includes crafts of all kinds, reading and outdoor activities. Deb and Jerry do a lot of camping, hunting and fishing.