Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

Norma T. Mertz

Committee Members

E. Grady Bogue, Ruth A. Darling, Terrell L. Strayhorn, Marianne Woodside


The purpose of this study was to describe how the doctrine of in loco parentis was operationalized at the University of Tennessee during the early 1920s and 1930s, through analysis of the minutes of the University of Tennessee Administrative Council, the administrative body charged with the major decisions concerning student life for the University. The phenomenon under examination in this single, descriptive, holistic case study design was the operationalization of the concept of in loco parentis, and the case was the University of Tennessee during the early 1920s and 1930s.

The study identified the various issues with which the Administrative Council dealt in the early 1920s and 1930s, as well as outcomes of the various issues before the Council. The findings revealed that the University practiced standing in the place of students’ parents in various ways, including: a comprehensive class attendance policy and monitoring of class attendance; substantial monitoring and oversight of academic progress; mandated attendance at a religious chapel program; restrictions on travel outside Knoxville while classes were in session; regulation of social dancing; visitation and curfew restrictions in residential facilities for women; lecturing and verbal reprimanding of students who appeared before the Council; serving as a permission-granting or permission-denying body for various and sundry requests; disciplining of students for vague, non-specific matters of non-academic student misconduct; and extensive use of student probation and the associated restrictions which accompanied probation.

As the first study to document the way in which the doctrine of in loco parentis was operationalized from an administrative perspective, the findings add significantly to the existing literature and to our understanding of the relationship between the student and the institution in the early part of the twentieth century.

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