From "Sweat Equity" to the Sweet Spot: Understanding Career Commitment Influences for Title IX Administrators

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Organization Development & Change (D.O.D.C.)


Organization Development

First Advisor

Maureen Wilson (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Steven Cady (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Tiffany Davis (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Patrick Pauken (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Danielle Kuhl (Other)


Title IX regulations have been in place for five decades, and various studies have examined the impact of these regulations on athletics, adjudication, and the experiences of complainants and respondents involved in cases. Although Title IX has evolved, skeptics and supporters have debated whether the regulations are effective. As of late, each presidential administration has revised guidance and steepened the risks for those responsible for Title IX compliance. The Department of Education, through the Office for Civil Rights, requires that institutions of higher education have Title IX coordinators. Results of surveys conducted on the state of the profession have signaled there may be high attrition in Title IX roles, yet limited research has focused on Title IX administrators. The purpose of this study was to understand career commitment influences for Title IX administrators in higher education, with a specific focus on the role of institutional resources. Career entrenchment (Carson et al., 1995; Wilson et al., 2016) and career commitment (Wilson et al., 2016) form the conceptual framework of the study. Additionally, I explored how organization development and change principles may intersect with Title IX work. Career and organizational commitment, as well as resources, are all central to how organizations develop and change. The research questions were: (1) What influences career commitment for Title IX administrators navigating case management and compliance? (2) What role do institutional resources play in Title IX administrators’ ongoing career and organizational commitment? I used generalized inductive qualitative research and conducted semi-structured interviews with ten participants with a minimum of three years of experience in Title IX investigation, adjudication, or compliance at Ohio college or university campuses. Seven themes emerged to explain what influenced the participants’ career commitment: “Sweat Equity”: Professional Contributions; Institutional Experiences; Threat of Burnout; Making a Difference in Students’ Lives; Allocation of Resources; Criticality of Support; and Belief in the Institution. The findings of this study showcase what higher education leaders and lawmakers should consider in retaining these highly-specialized employees. Additionally, the findings may apply to career commitment influences for others in compliance positions and other helping roles. This study highlights ways that collaborative change strategies can be useful tools for institutional, government, and organizational leaders based on my interpretations of participants’ experiences. I also recommend practical strategies to advance theory.