First Advisor

Rodriguez, Katrina L

Second Advisor

Lahman, Maria

Document Type


Date Created



The purpose of this dissertation is to explore a professional development curriculum in an institution of higher education. This case study advocates that all student affairs employees undergo continuous professional development training to provide collective understanding of essential workplace concepts necessary for effective organizational development. The research question-- How do student affairs employees experience workplace training as it contributes to organizational development?--addresses the confluence of two areas of higher education literature: transformative learning for education practitioner's professional growth and best practices for higher education organizational development. Using a constructivist, case study-narrative design, this research explores employee experiences with a professional development program, especially in how they view the evolving culture of their workplace as it contributes to organizational change. Data collected through three years of site observation and training involvement included in-depth interviews and focus groups with 12 diverse student affairs employees engaged in progressive program entitled The Leadership Center. Through exploring employees personal and professional experiences, themes found include a glimpse into the organization's culture, longstanding issues considered, and how staff felt invested in through their program participation. Likewise, employees described their learning experience from the training as it affected their view of the workplace, and issues they desired to still be addressed as it contributes to the organization's effectiveness. Implications of this research include, in addition to the power of human contact, how workplace training serves as an opportunity for organizational development, how systemic learning brings to life higher education values, and what the challenges are when social justice is used out of context. Finally, the value of supporting theory for practice is addressed, as well as recommendations for future research. With the intended audience of higher education administrators, the goal of this research is that, the more that is known about how student affairs employees experience professional development opportunities, the more institutions can establish environments conducive to effective systemic development.

Abstract Format



higher education; organizational change; professional development; student affairs; transformative learning; university leadership


314 pages

Local Identifiers



Fall 2011 Graduate Dean's Citation for Outstanding Thesis, Dissertation, and Capstone

Rights Statement

Copyright is held by author.