Publication Date

Summer 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Barbara Burch (Director), Randy Capps, Don Swoboda, and Tim Todd

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


Today’s modern higher education landscape presents myriad challenges to higher education leaders and administrators. Among those challenges is how universities respond to demands for accountability, growth of alternative models of postsecondary education delivery, the need to serve and increasingly diverse society, and reduced state and federal appropriations. Research suggests that the biggest changes for American higher education are imminent and will necessitate new business models, new forms of collaboration and partnerships, and innovative about the enterprise of higher education. This study sought to gain understanding about the development process and structural framework that allows a university’s outreach unit to be responsive to university mission, foster and nurture innovation, engage stakeholders, and create an alternative and impactful revenue stream.

Current and former Western Kentucky University employees were selected to participate in this study based on their involvement with the planning and implementation process that occurred during the development of the Division of Extended Learning and Outreach. This qualitative study explored: establishment of need and value for the new unit, how vision was shared and clarified, how structural components were prioritized; the role of leadership, and establishment of practices that would sustain the unit over time. Results indicated that creation of the potential for revenue generation was important as change leaders established need and value. In addition, effective communication was

paramount to sharing and clarifying vision. Prioritizing for innovative practices was an important structural component of the unit and leadership’s commitment to collaboration was identified as a key contribution to successful change. Finally, the development of a strong culture of academic support and commitment to continued agility and innovation emerged as key factors in the unit’s ability to remain relevant and responsive.


Educational Administration and Supervision | Higher Education | Organizational Behavior and Theory