Date of Award

5-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

E. Grady Bogue

Committee Members

Norma T. Mertz, Michael Fitzgerald, Gary Skolits

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine Georgia political, academic, and corporate leaders’ perceptions of higher education accountability. A case study design was used to gain in-depth information. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 23 participants.

The findings of the study included the following:

  1. Nearly every participant believed the mission and purpose higher education involved providing students with the skills and abilities needed to obtain gainful employment, and thereby make a positive impact on the economic development of the state of Georgia.
  2. Approximately half of the participants believed higher education should cultivate an engaged citizenry.
  3. No consensus was reached regarding the definition of accountability or the purpose of higher education accountability. However, nearly half of the participants used the words responsible or responsibility as part of the definition of accountability and almost half felt the purpose of higher education accountability was to demonstrate a return on investment to stakeholders.
  4. Only one evidence, graduation rates, was identified as an acceptable and valid reflection of accountability by more than half of the participants.
  5. The majority of the participants stated the best way to share accountability evidence to stakeholders was to improve the quality, type, and methods for communicating that information.
  6. The majority of participants stated the most important step higher education could take to improve performance accountability was to work to improve communication with stakeholders.

Based on the findings of this study, a few conclusions can be drawn. Political, academic, and corporate leaders agree in most areas related to higher education accountability. The common ground among stakeholders is encouraging. Stakeholders believe that the mission and purpose of higher education is to give students the skills to obtain employment. However, corporate leaders do not appear to believe the purpose of higher education is to create engaged citizens like political and academic leaders seem to. All stakeholders agreed colleges and universities must enact accountability measures and be prepared to demonstrate those measures. To accomplish this, communication must improve since stakeholders feel this will result in a better understanding of higher education accountability expectations and outcomes.

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