International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Transforming Private Universities: An Exploratory Study
Anna P. Drake, William L. Sparks

This paper explores key factors supporting institutional transformation in private, non-profit universities in the Southeast. Beginning with a review of relevant literature on higher education today, organizational transformation, and change in colleges and universities, it proceeds to analyze the successful growth and change achieved by Belmont University, High Point University, and Elon University over the last seven years. Through interviews with key leaders at each institution and subsequent thematic coding, the study identifies nine critical factors supporting transformational change in private universities: focused, visionary leadership; strategic planning; building facilities, then endowment; expansion of graduate programs; intentional community relations; faculty and curriculum development; mission-centrism; market niche, and lower-need students. The study finds key differences in financial management, pace of change, and stage in the transformation process. The author recommends further study in these areas as well as in the sustainability of transformational change in the university setting, the relationship between presidential leadership and strategic change, and in the effectiveness of strategic planning frameworks.

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