Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Van E. Cooley


Civil wars affect the social systems of a nation, including higher education. The purpose of this study was to do an in-depth concurrent mixed method analysis of the perceived impacts of the 14-year (1989–2003) civil war on higher education institutions in Liberia during the civil war years and from the end of the civil war in 2003 to the point of data collection in 2007. The literature is replete with expert opinions on the impacts of the Liberian civil war, but only limited evidence for quantitative and qualitative studies on war impacts in general exists.

No study on the context of higher education was found for Liberia or any other nation. The University of Liberia and Cuttington University were analyzed through a quantitative survey with 316 randomly selected subjects and five specifically designed interview protocols with nine senior university administrators and a designee of the National Commission for Higher Education, after the study was approved by Western Michigan University Human Subjects Institutional Review Board and written consents were obtained from each subject before participation.

The impacts of the civil war on teaching quality, student enrollment, student persistence, student graduation rates, and resources for faculty and students during and after the civil war were analyzed through paired samples t tests. Students perceived more negative impacts during the war than after the war ended. Differences between students were analyzed using independent samples t tests. Students at Cuttington University reported better teaching quality and resources during and after the civil war. No differences were observed on student admission, retention, or graduation rates among the students.

Paired samples t tests were used to measure perceptions of non-students including faculty, administrators, and staff on the same issues, and on university governance they perceived more negative impacts during the war than after the war. Differences between non-students were analyzed using independent samples t tests and no differences were reported from the survey, but Cuttington non-students indicated better governance, teaching quality, and resources during and after the war from the interview data. The findings from documentary reviews and site observations were similar to the findings above.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access