Date of Award

Fall 10-11-2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Robert Michael

Second Advisor

Mary Gowan

Third Advisor

Michael Lanford

Abstract

One of the common strategies to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and attractiveness for higher educational institutions involves merging multiple institutions. These actions can create serious changes to culture and identity — impacting stakeholders like students, faculty, staff, communities, supporters and alumni. The purpose of this phenomenological case study was to explore ways alumni identity may have changed due to a merger between two higher educational institutions in the State of Georgia. Prior merger research has predominantly explored effects on other stakeholders, with limited emphasis on alumni issues. The theoretical framework for this study was organizational identity for alumni as based on social identity theory. Participants from an Alumni Association Board of Directors provided data, through semi-structured interviews, about the components of their identity to the newly-merged institution and how that may have changed from their alma mater. The results indicated that symbols, experiences, and value were the principal ways alumni identified with the new institution. These elements of identity can provide insight into alumni perspectives for administrators planning future higher education mergers as well as further research opportunities.

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