How One Small, Private Non-Profit University Has Prospered During And After The Great Recesion: An Ethnographic Case Study
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentAdvanced Studies, Leadership, and Policy
ProgramDoctor of Philosophy
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This study examines the case of Stevenson University, a small, private, non-profit institution in Maryland that has prospered at a time when many such institutions are struggling to survive. The University traces its roots to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and has 7recently received national attention as a college to watch by U. S. News and World Report, a prestigious category that is based upon recommendations from its peer institutional leaders. On its Maryland campuses, the institution has evolved from a one-year Catholic medical secretarial school for women in 1947 to a co-educational independent university offering bachelor's and master's degrees to over 4,000 students. Organizational theory, economic theory, and student involvement theory constitute the conceptual framework through which the institution is examined. Through interviews; direct and participant observations; and reviews of school records and archives themes are developed regarding the institution's student-centered culture, prevailing leadership style, capacity to adapt, emphasis upon career education, and extracurricular activities as elements in its four-fold growth during and after the Great Recession. The literature review examines financial sustainability relative to the combination of an effective education and a focus upon the student. Finally, this study explores the question of whether corporate strategies are appropriate for application within institutions of higher education.