While much of the world refers to NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal simply as "Shaq," the towering 7-foot-1 former basketball center will soon have a new moniker: Dr. O'Neal.
Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla., will award O'Neal a doctorate in education this weekend after more than four years of graduate school work, including one-on-one class sessions O'Neal arranged to have as he traveled around the country, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The former L.A. Lakers and Miami Heat champion successfully defended his dissertation at the Roman Catholic university earlier this month after completing 16 courses, 54 credit hours, and finishing with a 3.8 GPA.
The soon-to-be Dr. O'Neal, Ed.D, concentrated in Organizational Learning and Leadership, and wrote a dissertation, complete with an oral and video project, titled, "How Leaders Utilize Humor or Seriousness in Leadership Roles."
"He was a good student," Dr. David M. Kopp, chairman of the university's Organizational Learning and Leadership program, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "He is very intellectually curious. He is like a sponge, he takes everything in."
O'Neal, 40, will walk in the weekend graduation ceremonies with 1,100 other students at the James L. Knight International Center in Miami, according to the report.
Barry University and a representative for O'Neal did not respond to calls for comment.