Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Andrea L. Beach

Second Advisor

Dr. Daniel Gaymer

Third Advisor

Dr. Kirk Heinze


Venture philanthropy, development, shared governance, philanthropy, advancement, liberal arts colleges


Competition for philanthropic dollars has escalated in recent years, particularly in higher education. A new type of charitable giving – venture philanthropy – has emerged and is impacting both educational policy and practice. Venture philanthropy involves donors using business models, championed practices of venture capitalists, and decision making procedures to drive their philanthropy and ongoing engagement with organizations they support.

Venture philanthropy has the potential to improve the financial vitality of colleges and universities. However, it also poses significant questions to the academy as more colleges and universities engage with donors who embrace its tenets. The primary research question seeks to understand in what ways venture philanthropy has impacted shared governance of private liberal arts colleges. Secondary research questions explore who the decision makers involved in the cultivation, solicitation, acceptance, and implementation of the gift were; the benchmarks, goals, and results that were agreed to before the gift was received; the motivation and process of accepting the gift; and, the lessons learned. Administrators and faculty leaders at two liberal arts colleges were interviewed to determine how such gifts functioned within a collegial shared governance model.

The study indicated that the collegial model of shared governance needs to evolve to reflect the changes of philanthropy in higher education. Faculty members want to be more engaged both in setting priorities and in the fundraising process. Administrators need to promote increased transparency, trust, and engagement with faculty in the philanthropic process. A new gift process needs to be formalized to manage venture philanthropy gifts. Finally, the collegial model, in practice, does not match theory. Venture philanthropy donors have an incredible opportunity to financially impact colleges and universities nationwide, but traditional theories of shared governance have not kept pace with the changes of external influence on higher education. Recommendations for practices include promoting a shared vision more widely, increasing transparency and consensus building, improving faculty engagement in philanthropy, strengthening leadership in negotiating gifts, creating strategies for embracing venture philanthropy, and improving the process of venture philanthropy gift acceptance.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access