Date of Award


Degree Name

Leadership Studies


College of Education

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Dennis M. Anderson, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Charles Bethel

Third Advisor

Dr. Edna Meisel


The purpose of this research is to better understand the factors in students’ lives that determine why they fail to earn a degree and how institutions retain or recruit back stopouts for completion of certificates and degrees. Degree completion is a national, state, and institutional priority as all groups are falling short on meeting degree attainment goals. Currently, there is an abundance of literature on why students stopout. The literature does not directly propose strategies that would increase degree completion or determine the necessary faculty and staff training needed to implement those strategies. This research helps fill the gap in the literature and will be used by the researcher to support policy improvement and recommend institutional changes based on the findings. This qualitative study explored faculty and administrators’ perceptions on degree completion initiatives to identify recommendations for best practices. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 faculty and administrators from three four-year public institutions located in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The universities selected for this study participated in the statewide initiative known as Project Graduate. Narratives were constructed for each participant and resulted in four themes: training for faculty and staff, central point of contact, additional funding and scholarship dollars, and prior learning assessment policy. The findings of this study are informative to the campus community, including academic leaders, faculty, and administrators, who are interested in the sustainability of degree completion initiatives. Given the limited research in strategies and best practices, this dissertation advances our understanding of how universities can use available resources to meet degree attainment goals.


Educational attainment -- Kentucky.

Education, Higher -- Kentucky.

College dropouts -- Kentucky.