Laura Beer


Rodriguez, Katrina


Helm, Heather

Committee Member

Birnbaum, Matthew

Committee Member

Murdock, Jennifer


Higher Education & Student Leadership


University of Northern Colorado

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Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created





283 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


The purpose of this qualitative dissertation was to study spirituality in the work lives of higher education administrative leaders, with spirituality loosely defined as an ineffable, elusive concept with values of transcendence, mystery, compassion for all beings, and deep appreciation of the beauties of life at its core. Instead of imposing definitions of spirituality upon participants` experiences and words, I relied upon their explanations and interpretations to guide interview questions and data analysis. A qualitative descriptive case study methodology was selected, and six administrators agreed to participate in the project. A total of 17 interviews were conducted via semi- and unstructured interviews and innerviews, and data analyzed through crystallization techniques. The investigation required an approach that was focused and eclectic. Due to the lack of previous information on the topic attention was given to spiritual attributes of leadership as well as previous literature and methods of representation and analysis. Diagrams, poetry, stories, and music were created for the purposes of member checking and data representation in order to illustrate participants` transrational and sometimes indescribable conceptions of spirituality. The use of music for data representation called for special considerations and prompted me to use musical language to frame and describe processes and various elements of the dissertation. Results of the investigation indicate spirituality is an active force in administrative leaders` work lives and is revealed in how they make decisions, manage staff, and interact with other leaders. Spirituality and a valuing of spiritual qualities were essential components of their approach to leadership, guiding how they performed their professional duties and affecting their internal coping mechanisms for handling challenges and stress. Some may try to argue spirituality does not belong as a topic in discussions about higher education, yet the study and attendant literature review indicate this to be an archaic viewpoint. Implications for incorporating spirituality into higher education administration in concrete and conceptual ways are outlined, and readers are urged to consider how they might be able to integrate suggestions into their own campus environment and work settings.


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Digital object contains 7 audio files.

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