Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Work

First Advisor

Sarah Price


Community engagement initiatives have experienced an increase in attention, appreciation, and participation among those in academic, nonprofit, and other community-based organizations over the past two decades. The purpose of this study is to explore the meanings of community-campus partnerships among stakeholders in the community and in academia towards the goal of generating a theory grounded in these data that will concomitantly contribute to the social work profession and the community engagement movement. Using as its foundation the shared interest among the social work profession and the community engagement movement on values and ethics, this study utilizes a traditional grounded theory methodology as a means to systematically examine the question “What does it mean to be involved in a community-campus partnership?” The theory that emerged from the data in this study is about what it takes to sustain partnerships between community and campus organizations. The final five themes found in this theory are: A strong foundation upon which the relationship is built; navigating the process of a partnership project; goodness-of-fit for all involved; resources; and impact. Overall, the theory of partnership sustainability draws the attention of partnership practitioners and stakeholders to the importance of relationships as being the core for any partnership activity. When contemplating how a particular resource, impact, process-related challenge and issue of partner match was addressed within their partnership, the participants continually came back to the idea that partnership sustainability can be traced back to the relationship between partners. Implications for further research involve a deeper study of the nature of relationships within community-campus partnerships; the organizational culture dynamics that are unique to academia; the nature, value, and perceived importance of research done in the community; and the intersectionality of student engagement and community engagement, particularly in an age of assessment and benchmarking.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2011

Included in

Social Work Commons