Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Public Policy and Administration

Advisor

Michael Knight

Abstract

Administrators of 2-year colleges are working in an environment where they seek to balance the social development of the student and the community's demand for a trained workforce to achieve economic development. This balance has resulted in ambiguity about the mission and purpose of 2-year colleges. The purpose of this case study was to explore a community college's experiences with mission change by exploring the interaction between a neoliberal public policy environment and the traditional social democratic mission of academia. Harvey's conceptualization of neoliberalism was used as the theoretical framework. Data were collected through 15 semi-structured interviews with members of college leadership, faculty members, staff, and members of the college's advisory council. Other data included documentation about policy, mission, and publicly available documents related to the mission change at the institution. These data were deductively coded, and then subjected to content analysis. Key findings indicated that the college initially stalled in the mission change process, and as a result, identified alternative pathways to achieve the goals of career-relevant training the neoliberal environment demanded. In this sense, the perspective of academic capitalism was born from necessity for self-reliance and illustrates the commonality of finding entrepreneurial solutions. The implications for positive social change include recommendations to leaders of 2-year colleges on managing mission change in a way that responds to the needs of the college community while retaining the relevance of students' social development.