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ERIC Number: ED557477
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 167
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3039-6418-3
Understanding Catholic Universities' Organizational Identity: Perspectives from University Leaders
Hickey, Suzanne M.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University
Since the 1960s, American Catholic social institutions have struggled with issues related to their organizational and religious identities (Dosen, 2009; Gallin, 2000; Weakland, 1994). For Catholic colleges and universities, these issues are evidenced by the difficulty some institutions have with being readily able to recognize their distinctive Catholic character, identity, and mission (Gallin, 2000; Garrett; 2006; Hellwig, 2005). Among Catholic scholars, the perception and significance of these identity questions and concerns are varied. Some Catholic scholars regard the situation as catastrophic, warning that Catholic higher education is experiencing an identity crisis (Dosen, 2009; Morey & Piderit, 2006). Other Catholic higher education authorities take a less ominous approach, referring to the question of Catholic identity as a problem (Gleason, 1995) or challenge, as a former president of the University of Notre Dame described it (Hesburgh, 1994). Several specific circumstances have been attributed to the identity concerns in Catholic higher education. These factors are: an increasing reliance on the laity; declining membership within sponsoring congregations; changing organizational and stakeholder characteristics; finances; and the recent pedophilia and sex-abuse scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church. These identity concerns, combined with the social, political and cultural changes in American society and the Roman Catholic Church over the last 50 years, have left the Catholic higher education community to wonder "what is a Catholic university?" (O'Brien, 1997, p. 38). The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand how senior executives; specifically presidents, provosts, chief student affairs officers, and senior executives for development, understand and promote organizational identity and culture at three northeastern Catholic colleges and universities. Furthermore, this study compares the experiences of these senior executives based on the executive's position as a religious or lay leader at the institution. The results of the study indicate three major themes that explain how senior executives currently define, manage, and preserve Catholic identity and culture on campus. The three themes are: defining who we are; managing identities; and promoting and preserving Catholic culture and identity. These themes have assisted senior executives in distinguishing their institutions from other Catholic and secular postsecondary institutions. [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; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A