Steven P. Zeeh


Birnbaum, Matthew

Committee Member

Yakaboski, Tamara

Committee Member

Morgan, Thomas

Committee Member

Sileo, Nancy


Doctor of Philosophy


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



218 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


This multiple case study examined how 15 mid-level student affairs directors responded to real or perceived institutional funding decreases. This is an important topic because mid-level student affairs directors have little budget training or expertise, and few researchers have investigated how they make financial decisions when experiencing decreasing resources. This study is significant because it provides insight for current and future student affairs directors on how to be financially pro-active. The method I chose to determine if directors received budget cuts was through unit level budget analysis, and I attempted to understand how they responded to perceived or real decreases through semi-structured interviews. The primary findings that emerged from the results were (a) the disconnect between my assumption that directors are experiencing budget cuts, and what I actually found; (b) directors continually expecting to receive decreasing resources and perceived they were experiencing decreasing resources; (c) directors choosing similar pro-active financial and budgeting strategies; (d) directors believing they have limited financial power and control; (e) directors engaging in budget confidentiality; and (f) student affairs norms. The first takeaway is that student affairs units and the mid-level directors that lead them are contributing parties to the overall institutional revenue, and have become more mission central. The second takeaway is the mid-level directors are not simply responding, but utilizing proactive strategies in preparation for decreasing state funding and institutional budget cuts. The third takeaway is the lack of reality that exists around finance and resource allocations within student affairs. A final takeaway is that public higher education institutions continue to be highly institutionalized environments, and student affairs division are highly normative environments.

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Copyright is held by the author.