Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Larry H. Ebbers


This study focused on participant perceptions of roles and perceived influence of state Governors and their staffs in higher education policy-making. Reported increased activity by Governors and their staffs in education policy-making, coupled with increasing public demands and limited or reduced state resources for higher education lend relevance to this topic. Literature also suggests that higher education leaders and state officials may have differing views of their roles in state policy-making processes;The study was designed to capture participant perceptions as to processes, and roles and influence therein, not specific policy outcomes. Given the interpersonal and dynamic nature of the policy-making process, these perceptions were the focus of the study;Qualitative case study methodology was used in this study. Initially, a preliminary survey was administered to Governor's education policy advisors from ten states. Thereafter, a field study was conducted to examine policy-making in the states of Michigan and Kentucky. The study presents relevant background information on each state and commentary from approximately 50 in-depth personal interviews with governmental and education leaders in these states;The researcher has worked as a staff member of his state legislature, Governor's office, and as Executive Director of his state Board of Regents prior to assuming his current position as a Special Assistant to the President of Iowa State University. The commentary and emergent themes of the study are informed by those experiences as well as study data and existing literature;Study findings included a confirmation of the state-to-state variation in: public sector system design, social/economic/political culture, expectations for Executive branch involvement in higher education policy-making, and the roles and influence of the Governor and staff. While some similarities in states' approaches were noted as well, participants believed the circumstances in their state were unique from any other;The perceptions by and of some very experienced Governor's aides and state government and higher education officials in the study states may be of value in assessing similar situations. The study design, however, does not provide for quantifiable, transferable results that can necessarily be applied to differing points in time or differing locations.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Gregory Scott Nichols



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

148 pages