Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Collegiate equestrian programs are costly to operate, and cost often exceeds revenue from tuition. The local problem in this project study was the need for supplemental revenue to support a cost-intensive equestrian program, without cutbacks or raising student fees. The study examined the integration of an equine-assisted activities and therapy (EAAT) program for additional income, while capitalizing on existing institutional resources at a Midwestern university in the United States. Research questions explored how to implement an EAAT program to close the budgetary gap at the project site. Systems theory formed the conceptual framework for analyzing the relationship between program characteristics and budgetary adequacy, as well as promising points of intervention in the systemic relationship between program and budget. A mixed methods design included a quantitative survey of all U.S. post-secondary institutions (37) with EAAT programs. Survey data were expanded and validated through open-ended interviews using a panel of five experts selected from the survey group. Data analysis included the constant comparative method, member checking, and triangulation procedures. Focus groups provided feedback on analyzed data regarding application to the project site. Results revealed dominant themes: collaborations; the relationship with administration; finances; staffing; scheduling; and employability. A three-option proposal was created to integrate EAAT, which included students providing community EAAT services to enhance their professional skills, and program revenue. Beyond addressing the financial issue, the social change implications of this study include preparing college graduates for service-based careers that advance a culture of equity and diversity in the workplaces to which they will bring the values learned in the EAAT program.