An Identification Of Effective Renewal Strategies For Small Private Liberal Arts Colleges

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education


Sidney S. Micek


Organization, Survival, Methods, Higher education

Subject Categories

Higher Education Administration


Energy shortages, uncertain economic conditions, and high unemployment have left few, if any, American institutions of higher education untouched. Small private colleges, often characterized by limited endowments, small enrollments, moderate selectivity, and relative obscurity, are clearly the most vulnerable to today's environment (Hammond, in press). In spite of their susceptibility, a number of these institutions have overcome organizational crisis, and successfully managed a renewal process.

The objectives of this study were to: (1) identify strategies for institutional renewal in the literature; (2) identify those strategies judged most effective by individuals in renewed institutions; (3) determine if role (administrator, faculty, trustee, significant other) affected perceptions of strategy effectiveness; (4) determine whether other strategies existed that had not been previously identified.

Open systems theory (Katz and Kahn, 1978) provided the theoretical framework for understanding how organizations interact with their external environment. The environment in which small, private liberal arts colleges currently exist can be classified as turbulent (Emery and Trist, 1965). Baldridge and Tierney (1979) note that "The ability of private colleges to survive hinges on the effectiveness with which their management adapts to this turbulent environment" (p. 206).

This research involved two phases, each employing a separate methodology. Phase one sought to identify key strategies for institutional renewal that existed in the literature. An intensive review was conducted using a modified content analytic procedure. A final list of 74 strategies (each cited in at least three sources) were arrayed in eight categories. The Effective College Renewal Strategies Inventory (the sampling instrument) was created using the strategies and categories. A ninth category was added to allow respondents to identify strategies not initially included in the Inventory.

Phase two of the study featured the surveying of individuals affiliated with institutions that had been identified as renewed (the institutions were identified by a national panel of experts). Individuals nominated by their college president as knowledgeable about the nature of the crisis and the strategies employed to renew the institution were included. The ECRSI was mailed to 274 individuals so nominated. Usable replies were received from 76 percent (208 of 274) of the potential respondents. . . . (Author's abstract exceeds stipulated maximum length. Discontinued here with permission of author.) UMI


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