Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Theresa Pulos

Second Supervisor

Anastasia Urtz


The spontaneous nature of crises on college campuses, and the difficulty in predicting or preparing for such occurrences, has created a challenge for campus leadership and their execution of crisis management plans. Current research explores the effectiveness of these crisis management plans, however, a gap of knowledge exists in understanding individual leaders’ experiences and the challenges they face. The intent of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of higher education administrators who have led through an unexpected crisis that impacted their institution. Research was conducted using qualitative methodology consisting of one-on-one semi-structured interviews. Data retrieved from these interviews were coded into meaning units to help better understand crisis phenomena impacting senior level higher education administrators. Findings revealed administrators that have experienced a crisis often struggle with the balance between their institutional responsibilities and their personal convictions as leaders. The recommendations set forth in this study include: dedicating time for reflection and processing after a crisis event, and engaging in activities that help leaders to better understand and develop their leadership identity.

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