This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Student Affairs Practices: Perceptions of Student Support Services and Retention




McGhee, Adam

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


Student affairs and adult education professionals in colleges and universities are inundated with increasing demands on resources, placing stress on allocation of time, energy, human capital, and finances. Contributing to these difficulties is an unprecedented level of oversight from government and from families of students. “Helicopter” families want to ensure students are being fully developed as functional and employable citizens. Government wants to see measureable outcomes being met and reported. Demonstration of efficient resource allocations is increasingly important. This dissertation explored employee perception factors within specific high-research universities as they relate to student services spending as a mechanism toward graduation and retention. Twelve schools were identified from publicly available IPEDS data. These institutions exhibited above or below average spending on the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) variable “student services” and/or exhibited above or below average graduation and retention rates. These twelve universities were targeted for a focused survey exploring the perceptions of student services professionals and administrators on campus. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of the 130 responses provides insight into how student affairs professionals and administrators differ from each other within their own schools and across the overall sample.