Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy





First Advisor

Constance Beecher

Second Advisor

Lyn Brodersen


The fine arts in Midwestern community colleges:

Six case studies portraying a cross-case analysis of sustainability


Meghan R. Schumacker


The purpose of this study was to explore the sustainability of the fine arts programs in community colleges. This dissertation research focused on the concept of sustainability in community college fine arts programs to uncover features that aid in the support of these programs. As posited by Hibnere (1998, as cited by Slahova et al., 2007), sustainable fine arts programs “promote the development of a creative, emotionally and intellectually educated personality and also give a personality the strength of creation to be creative and with natural disposition to preserve cultural identity” (p. 142).

The research is a qualitative multi-case study that included a cross-case analysis of sustainable elements in fine arts programs from the experts in the field. The theory of liminality is the theoretical lens I used, which focuses on the evolving changes in a work place and their resulting effects on the employees. I coded the data collected from interviews, retrieved documents and made observations of the fine arts facilities with particular attention to the participants’ understandings and experiences of sustainability in regards to the fine arts. Data were horizontalized and coded based on emerging themes and patterns. Recommendation were made for further research regarding the sustainability of fine arts programs at community colleges.

I conducted this multi-case study employing six Midwestern community colleges and a fine arts leader from each institution. Through interviews, facility observations, equipment observations, data collection and conversations with fine arts leaders, I established each of the six sites as individual case study. After analyzing the sustainability of each site, I cross-analyzed the six sites to uncover over-arching concepts about sustainability.

I positioned myself in this study as a fine arts performer and educator who has observed the shifting nature of sustainability in the fine arts. I have been a part of fine arts programs that have been strong and viable as well as programs that dissipated and were eliminated. My role as a researcher was to discover different perspectives of sustainable fine arts programs from other professionals in the field.

A previous case study that I conducted inspired this dissertation topic. I surveyed community college fine arts directors/leaders and identified elements they claimed were needed to sustain their programs: community support, financial and administrative support from the institution, adequate resources (as well as marketing) for the programs, and better partnerships with the community college and the area K-12 schools’ fine arts programs.

The findings of this study raised awareness of the need for strong partnerships between the community college fine arts programs and the community. Varying partnerships help sustain and promote fine arts programs. A future recommendation is to implement partnerships within the community for support.


Copyright Owner

Meghan Ruth Schumacker



File Format


File Size

186 pages