Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Communication and Information

Major Professor

Sally McMillan

Committee Members

Michael Palenchar, Lisa Fall, Jennifer Marrow


Developed from the public relations process model, the purpose of this study was to identify parental perceptions of university drinking norms and their relationship with parental perceptions of the organizational legitimacy of the university. This study used a web-based survey to assess an N = 173 parents of current university students at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. The results of this study identified that parents have exaggerated misperceptions of college drinking that are related to their overall perceptions of the university in terms of organizational legitimacy. The study also found that parental awareness of university prevention efforts were strongly correlated with parental perceptions of organizational legitimacy. This study advocates the importance for universities to approach alcohol prevention from an issues management perspective that includes the use of two-way symmetrical communication with parents as well as the possible benefits of using social marketing as a public relations tool.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."