Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Donald W. Good

Committee Members

Andrew J. Czuchry, W. Hal Knight, Richard A. Manahan


This quantitative study examined the perceptions of selected university administrators and legislators concerning levels of support for Tennessee public higher education. The purpose of the study was to gain a greater understanding among the various constituents as to the needs and restraints facing higher education funding. The population targeted for this study was comprised of 132 members of the Tennessee General Assembly, the Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), the Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), the President of the University of Tennessee System, and 36 Chief Administrators at 9 state-supported universities. The principal investigator used a web-based survey development company to design, collect, and store survey responses.

Results obtained from the study were examined using independent samples t tests, one-way ANOVAs, and a Pearson correlation coefficient. From these tests, 8 out of 13 research questions had statistically significant findings. Analysis of the data revealed that legislators and higher education administrators in the State of Tennessee perceived funding for higher education differently. There were significant differences between the 2 groups concerning use of higher education reserves during weak economic times, the explanation for tuition rises, how much costs students should incur for higher education, level of importance placed on state appropriations for funding higher education, and how they perceived priority of higher education in the state budget. There was a significant difference between one's political party affiliation and perception of access to higher education being an issue. Democratic participants tended to perceive access to higher education as more of an issue than Republican participants. A significant difference was also found between one's education level and ranking of higher education in the state budget. Participants having earned a graduate degree tended to prioritize higher education with significantly greater regard in the state budget than the participants with no graduate degree.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.