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ERIC Number: ED522097
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 251
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1243-4581-9
Under Construction: A Case of Student Self-Governance at the University of Virginia
Eramo, Nicole P.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Virginia
Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819 to become a training ground for the leaders of a new republic. The institution has changed a great deal since its founding, but principles connected to "Mr. Jefferson's" legacy abound. One such ideal is student self-governance. Described in institutional literature as a core value of the student experience at the University of Virginia, this concept and how it is established and maintained by generations of university students was left unstudied. Through in-depth consideration of this institutional ideal, this case study of a year-in-the-life of Student Council adds to the relative dearth of existing research regarding student government and its contributions to the overall governance structure of colleges and universities. At the same time, it enhances understanding of the impact of an institution's culture and structure upon the actions of students and administrators and helps to understand how these actions re-inform and, in some cases, re-create institutional culture. Employing an embedded single case study design and using grounded theory methodology for data review and analysis, this research focuses on the following central questions: (1) How is student self-governance co-constructed by those involved in the primary student governing body, Student Council, and the peers and university officials with whom they interact at the University of Virginia? (2) How does the culture and organizational structure of the institution influence this process of co-construction? (3) In what ways, if any, does self-governance contribute to the institutional ideal of shared governance between students and university officials? Qualitative data collected to study these questions included document analysis, observations of meetings and orientation events, interviews with students and university officials, and review of the student newspaper and other media coverage about the Student Council. Several themes emerged from the data. Through weaving together these themes, a theory is developed suggesting that culture strongly influences structure and practice within an institution of higher education. These findings suggest that student affairs administrators must foster an understanding of the culture of their institution, both in themselves and in their staffs. Whether or not they recognize the influence of culture on their institutional environment could both have an impact on the success of their career at the institution, and their success in creating coordinated and congruent learning experiences for their students. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Virginia