Higher Education Ph.D. Dissertations


Development and fundraising practices in divisions of student affairs at 4-year, public universities

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

C. Carney Strange

Second Advisor

Louisa S. Ha (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

William E. Knight (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Maureen E. Wilson (Committee Member)


This study surveyed 261 NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) voting delegate SSAOs (senior student affairs officers) at 4-year, public institutions with enrollment greater than 5,000 students, in regard to the current status of their division-sponsored development and fundraising practices. A total of 111 respondents (42.5%)completed a questionnaire soliciting information about each student affairs division's: a.)institutional profile; b.) preparation for development and fundraising; c.) divisional priorities, capital campaign involvement, and fundraising success; d.) development and fundraising practices applied; e.) relationship to institutional advancement staff; and f.) major challenges and needs for those involved in such efforts. Complemented by themes evident in open-ended comments, the data were presented and analyzed through application of descriptive and nonparametric statistics.

In comparison to previous studies, the data revealed a significant presence in student affairs of an employed staff member responsible for development and fundraising, a range of best practices and preparation expectations, and an overall concern for the status of student affairs in the institution's fundraising strategy. Further analysis yielded several significant differences attributed to institutional size and mission, with student affairs divisions within larger and more research-oriented institutions more developed in their advancement efforts. Several implications from the data were noted, including the need for: a.) clearer intra-institutional communication as to the purposes and functions of student affairs divisions; b.) inclusion of other personnel in development and fundraising efforts; c.) continuing support for training in development and fundraising; d.) greater coordination of fundraising strategies; and e.) greater attention to the particular circumstances of small institutions.

Likewise, implications for future research included the need to: a.) further explore the effects of different institutional types; b.) utilize alternative research methodologies; c.) extend the focus of the research questions longitudinally; d.) examine the culture of philanthropy on campus; e.) evaluate the relative effectiveness of various development models; and f.) follow-up with participants regarding additional training needs.

The results of this study are of particular interest to SSAOs, student affairs department heads, graduate preparation faculty, institutional advancement professionals, and professional organization leadership.