Meet the Program Leadership

The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership K-12 program has key individuals effectively serving the students in the doctoral program.  The Directors and Office Staff work to provide critical support to students who are also serving schools in full-time capacities and taking care of a family at home.  Professors in every course have extensive experience in the K-12 setting and/or their content, including adjuncts who are still active in the field.

Neil Dugger, Ed.D., Director of the Ed.D. K-12 Program

Neil Dugger headshot

Dr. Dugger has over 40 years of experience in educational leadership, with 32 years of serving public schools as a teacher, principal, director, assistant superintendent, and superintendent.  For the past 10 years, he has worked at DBU preparing the next generation of servant leaders through the doctoral program.  His vision is to meet every doctoral student’s need by providing a challenging, yet practitioner-based experience at DBU. 

In developing and leading this program, Dr. Dugger seeks to find a good balance between a student’s academic life, professional life, and personal life.  The cohort model provides enhanced support, the coursework addresses real-life issues, and the research gives back to the schools with answers to important questions.  With a retention rate of 95% and 85% completing the program in four years or less, the program is clearly effective and meeting the needs of the students.

Graduates of the program come from nearly every school system in north Texas and beyond, in positions that cover the spectrum, and are making a difference every day.  In addition, spiritual development is a very real part of the program, with professors praying for students and incorporating Biblical truths as appropriate.  Dr. Dugger is confident that this doctoral program will transform your career and your life.

Contact Dr. Dugger at

Julie Leslie, Ed.D., Director of Research, Ed.D. K-12 Program

Julie Leslie headshot

Dr. Leslie has 26 years of experience in teaching and educational leadership. She taught middle and high school English and AP courses for fourteen years in Plano and Frisco ISDs before moving to FISD’s central office to lead the Gifted/Talented and advanced academics endeavors. Dr. Leslie left Frisco ISD after seven years in this position to help her husband win his battle against pancreatic cancer. 

Prior to accepting the Ed.D. Director of Research position at DBU, Dr. Leslie was the Executive Director of Learning in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. This position included providing leadership in the following areas: K-12 curriculum, G/T and advanced academics, dual language, and libraries. She also served on the superintendent’s cabinet and supported district endeavors, such as Future Ready Leadership Academy, Welcome Week, and New Teacher Induction. 

One key difference between DBU’s doctoral program and other programs around the state is our 85% completion rate. Nearly all of our doctoral students finish this terminal degree in four years or less because of the 1:1 support students receive during the dissertation writing phase. As the director of research, Dr. Leslie teaches several courses specifically designed to help students research and successfully defend their proposal and final paper. She also works with each student’s Chair and committee to provide personalized guidance when students need it. Dr. Leslie is a graduate of this program and has made it her mission to provide current students with the same care and support she received. This program was life-changing for her, and she is confident it will be for you as well!

Contact Dr. Leslie at

Lindsay Nellis, Ed.D. K-12 Program Assistant

Lindsay Nellis is a graduate student at Dallas Baptist University pursuing a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. Lindsay graduated Cum Laude from DBU in May of 2022. She plans to be a professor at DBU as well as a lifelong researcher, writer, and speaker. Lindsay has a heart for academia and uses this passion in the Ed.D. K-12 office, where she works with Dr. Neil Dugger, Director, and Dr. Julie Leslie, Director of Research.

Contact Ms. Nellis at