The Hybrid Public Research University: A Comparative Case Study of Two Self-Sustaining Degree Programs in Public Health

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Hagigi, Farhad A (2014)
  • Publisher: eScholarship, University of California
  • Subject: Education | Higher education | Organizational behavior | Higher Education | Hybrid Education | Organizational Change | Professional Degree Programs | Public Health Education | Resource Dependency

Abstract of the DissertationThe Hybrid Public Research University: A Comparative Case Study of Two Self‐Sustaining Degree Programs in Public HealthByFarhad Abas HagigiDoctor of Philosophy in EducationUniversity of California, Los Angeles, 2014Professor Walter R. Allen, Co-ChairProfessor Jos� Luis Santos, Co-ChairDecreased public funding, diminishing political and societal support, and increased competition from private institutions have led public research universities (PRUs) to undergo monumental changes. This diminishing public support for higher education and the resulting steep funding cuts prompted public universities to move towards self-sufficiency and to pursue alternative sources of revenue independent of state funding(Priest & St. John, 2006)(Priest & St. John, 2006)(Priest & St. John, 2006)(Priest & St. John, 2006)(Priest & St. John, 2006)(Priest & St. John, 2006)(Priest & St. John, 2006)(Priest & St. John, 2006) (Priest & St. John, 2006) through market-like activities. One such example is the PRUs' shift towards Self-Sustaining Programs (SSPs) in all three core mission domains of research, teaching, and service. The increase in SSPs was a strategic realignment for PRUs to meet their financial obligation and their mission objectives. Included within the SSP strategies are degree programs, non-degree certificates programs and continuing education opportunities, however, the Self-Sustaining Degree Program (SSDP) will be the focus of this study, with particular emphasis on programs of Public Health (SSDP-PH). The accelerated change in funding sources and trends towards self-sufficiency resulted in a shift in focus and adjustments in policies and procedures at PRUs from addressing public good to that of individual and market good. The shift away from education as a public good has led some PRUs to follow the path taken by several leading public institutions. Some higher education literature refers to this changing character of public universities as "privatization" and/or "hybridization," which is a higher education institution that would utilize various sources of revenue and funding to deliver a broad range of products and services in the world market and society. PRUs need to increase their institutional capacity to respond to changes in the external environment of government, business, and community while trying to maintain their institutional character. In order to identify potential best practices for establishment and operation of SSDPs, my goal was to understand the purpose of starting SSDPs and whether the operational policies of the SSDPs remained congruent with the initial mission of the SSDP and that of the PRU. Based on the information from a pilot study previously conducted, I designed and completed this study to capture structures, processes, and outcomes of SSDP-PH at two PRUs. I used three theoretical perspectives (i.e. resource dependency, isomorphism, and academic capitalism) to guide my research questions, each of which was useful in framing my interview questions and data analyses. I conducted multiple - comparative case studies analyzing institutional documents and conducting semi-structured interviews with 46 faculty, alumni, and administrators in the two SSDP-PH programs and other leading PRUs. Some key themes that emerged as important factors in SSDPs include: mission and public good, market demand, ranking and brand, curriculum and technology adoption, faculty role and shared governance, mission drifts and realignment, and outcomes for students and alumni. My key findings confirmed my hypotheses with some variations between the two institutions which were subjects of this comparative case study. The results showed that in pursuit of alternative sources of revenues, PRUs can still maintain their focus on public good. The results further showed that leadership commitments to quality, access, and equity at campus and unit levels where the SSDP operates determine whether the PRU will drift from its stated mission of serving public good while establishing and operating SSDPs. The implications of this study suggest the need for a systematic evaluation of the rationale for establishing a SSDP and to improve the prediction of long-term challenges associated with sustaining programmatic congruence. This study helps to guide future research in evaluating various outcomes of these programs at the student, program, and institutional levels.
Share - Bookmark