Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Larry H. Ebbers



This study provides better understanding of the practices and habits of thought of two high-functioning public institutions. Both schools, New England College and Midwest State University have received consistently high rankings from commercial ratings publications like U.S. News and World Report, and consistently high and often improving scores on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Both schools studied had consistent success despite the economic challenge of their baccalaureate focus and the rapidly changing higher education marketplace.

Both Midwest State University and New England College underwent significant change in mission and culture. Despite the disruption inherent in a significant mission change, both schools have, within that change, created practices and habits-of-mind that allowed them to react in a positive and responsive manner to challenges as they present themselves. This study examined the overarching question: How do campus faculty and administrative leaders in high-functioning baccalaureate and comprehensive institutions understand their role and practices, and how they contribute to the success of their institutions?

Data collection consisted of a series of interviews with administrative and faculty leaders and a review of documents at the two case institutions. There were a total of 11 participants between the universities and each was involved in a series of three interviews. During data analysis, some common themes were revealed between the two institutions. There was, however, a theme unique to each of the case institutions. The themes shared by both Midwest State University and New England College were: teaching, faculty engagement, leadership, interdisciplinary/general education and being student centric. The theme unique to New England College was honesty; and the theme unique to Midwest State was assessment.

This dissertation also provides recommendations to future campus leaders, administration and faculty at public baccalaureate and public comprehensive universities. Some recommendations may be of use to leaders at other kinds of institutions of higher education. Finally, the dissertation suggests additional paths for future research noting existing gaps in the literature.


Copyright Owner

Steven Manchester Carignan



File Format


File Size

176 pages