Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology & Higher Education

First Committee Member

Vicki J. Rosser

Second Committee Member

Lori J. Olafson

Third Committee Member

Mario C. Martinez

Fourth Committee Member

Teresa S. Jordan

Fifth Committee Member

Marcia M. Gallo

Number of Pages



Departmental and programmatic eliminations represent a new paradigm in the history of American higher education. Hastened by a national economic recession and competing state funding priorities, public post-secondary institutions have turned to academic attrition as a solution to continuous budgetary shortfalls. As a means of addressing the lived experience of faculty members and department chairs, the following qualitative case study explores perceptions of implementing departmental and/or programmatic eliminations.

Utilizing uncertainty reduction theory as a conceptual framework, interviewed faculty in saved units experienced considerable strategic uncertainty, failing to understand why they had been selected for elimination. Guided by a college-wide strategic planning process, faculty in eliminated units understood the rationale for abolishing departments, though they experienced considerable structural uncertainty in terms of adjusting to a new, non-academic reporting structure. These findings indicate that a transparent strategic planning process diminishes strategic uncertainty, while the elimination of traditional departmental structures heightens structural uncertainty.


Budget cuts; College department heads; Department chair; Downsizing of organizations; Program elimination; Public university; Qualitative; State universities and colleges; Strategic planning; Uncertainty reduction theory; Universities and colleges – Departments; Universities and colleges – Finance


Educational Leadership | Higher Education Administration

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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