Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Michael D. Davis


This study is a case study of an institutional transformational change effort in an urban research university. The study's focus is on the impact of The Milwaukee Idea on faculty and students as the soul of the university. Literature on transformational change in higher education focuses on the processes for launching this type of change and the role of formal change leaders. Less is known about the impact of transformational change on faculty and students. Relevant literature on change and institutional culture informed this study, including Kotter (1996), Wilber (1998), Cutright (2001), Peterson and Spencer (2000), Kezar and Eckel(2000), and Astin (2001). National projects sponsored by ACE and the Kellogg Foundation are also reviewed. Sense-making emerges as a critical construct in understanding the culture and values of students and faculty.Findings reveal that the change agenda brought cultural values around civic engagement, interdisciplinary work, and collaboration to the forefront of the institutional agenda. Faculty has engaged in new and enhanced work as a result of The Milwaukee Idea initiatives, while traditional university structures, including the faculty reward system, have been maintained. Students were recipients of the change agenda, but not active in its development. Community members have new expectations for their involvement in the university and the university's ability to contribute to the public good. There is an understanding in the community and at the university that their two fates are linked.The aggregate of faculty and student participants do not report a deep, pervasive impact on their culture and experiences. The Milwaukee Idea brought change to the university in new programs and centers, but it was not transformational. What The Milwaukee Idea did do is bring forward values within the culture and establish the university as a more visible presence and force in the local community.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Education Commons