While public higher education is facing numerous pressures the core function of the institution remains student learning. Students, taxpayers, state legislators, alumni, and parents expect returns on their financial investments. Employers expect college graduates hired to read, write, and communicate effectively. In the mean-time, public universities are facing reductions in state allocations and a higher number of students enrolling, with many enrolling under prepared and in need of additional services.
Public universities are more reliant on tuition to balance their budget and find new revenue streams at the same time. Often these revenue-generating activities move the institutional focus away from student learning. This tension between student learning and new revenue streams requires campuses to have especially effective and efficient operations.
This case study research project focuses on the factors that affect student learning at one public Midwestern university. Data for this project were collected through studying publications, observing campus stakeholders and attending campus meetings, and interviewing students, faculty, and staff. The information collected was sorted into overarching themes.
Three themes emerged. First, centralization of certain campus functions is an ally to achieving campus-wide goals, such as improving retention or increasing graduation rates. Campus processes such as advising, which is a critical success relationship for students, needs an overarching mission, purpose, and procedures to assure equitable experience for all students. Decentralized advising processes causes great variance. The second theme is alignment. As resources diminish, the critical factor for institutions is not how many student services it offers, but rather how resources are allocated to serve the most students. The final theme is messaging. A comprehensive campus-wide messaging program that drives students to use programs is needed. Offering programs and services for students is a first step but insufficient without the active examination of their access and effect. The true assessment of campus services and programs is how many students use them and how successful those students are. A strong messaging program informs stakeholders of expectations and keeps the dialogue current.
Higher education is highly valued and sought after. The role it serves in society is endless. However, the institutional framework for universities conducting these activities needs be effective and continuing to look for ways to improve.
|Commitee:||Grady, Michael, Williams, Michael|
|School:||Saint Louis University|
|School Location:||United States -- Missouri|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Higher Education Administration|
|Keywords:||Administrative alignment, Decentralization, Institutional mission, Student success|
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