Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Nancy Mansberger

Second Advisor

Dr. Lynn Nations Johnson

Third Advisor

Dr. Wanda Hadley


Female senior student affairs, decision-making, career, women leadership, crisis management, challenges/strategies


This study explores the experiences of female Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAOs) in decision-making across their careers in colleges and universities. This study focuses on female SSAOs who work in public and private institutions in the Midwest region of the United States. The experiences and perspectives of female SSAOs focused on the changes in decision-making styles while making small or large-scale decisions over time, the skillsets utilized, the challenges that they faced and the strategies that they employed. This study also explores female SSAOs’ experiences and perspectives regarding decision making when handling crises on campus.

The research design for this study is a qualitative hermeneutic phenomenology. This study focuses on capturing the lived experience of 12 female SSAOs in decision-making across their careers. Data was collected through in-depth semi structured interviews. The sample in this study was 12 female SSAOs who work in higher education institutions in four states in the Midwest. The researcher utilized an inductive analysis to code the data and to generate themes and subthemes. The five themes that emerged from this data were female SSAOs experiences, the changes in decision-making across careers, the challenges faced, the strategies used in the process of decision making, and the experiences of handling crises on campus.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access