Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

Terry T. Ishitani

Committee Members

Jimmy G. Cheek, Norma T. Mertz, Gretchen Neisler


In today’s global knowledge-economy, US research universities seek to attract and retain the best and brightest faculty in the world to increase the university’s intellectual capital and compete on a global scale. Increasingly, universities hire talented international faculty to fulfill these needs, which is especially prevalent in the science and engineering fields (S&E). International faculty benefit US universities in areas of research and scholarship as well as increased diversity and internationalization of the campus, however, not all international S&E faculty are retained. In fact, higher turnover has been found among international S&E faculty than their domestic peers (Kim, Twombly, & Wolf-Wendel, 2012), which results in high financial costs of replacement and disruptions to research projects and education programs. To decrease these costs and continue to compete on a global scale, US research universities must seek to retain talented international faculty at their institutions.

The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of international S&E faculty who leave US institutions for another job and their career path after departure. Results of this research may inform programs and practices which seek to retain international faculty in S&E departments at US research universities. This study utilized a large, national dataset from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation and provided results through descriptive statistics summaries and binary logistic regression analyses. The dependent variable studied was job departure between February 2015 and February 2017. Independent variables were categorized as perceived desirability of movement factors, perceived ease of movement factors, and institutional factors.

This study’s descriptive statistics summaries showed a higher percentage of female faculty than previous studies and a lower departure rate than previously reported. Most international faculty who leave their job remain in the US, however, almost a third leave higher education. Among predictors of international S&E faculty turnover, perceived desirability of movement and perceived ease of movement factors were both found to be significant, yet institutional factors were not significant. Perceived ease of movement factors, specifically employment factors within this category, had the greatest explanatory power of the decision to leave.

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