Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ed.D.)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Barbara Cozza

Second Advisor

Andre McKenzie,

Third Advisor

Richard Bernato


The focus on the transmission of mission in Catholic colleges and universities has heightened over the past decade as there is a recognition of the impact of diminishing numbers of priests and vowed clergy. Nationally, the concern over sponsorship in universities that are sponsored by religious communities has led to a dialogue about the most effective way to transmit mission to subsequent generations of students. It is the perspective of this research that an effective way to transmit mission to the next generation of students, in addition to curricular efforts, is through service immersion programs. In this research, a special focus was placed on the work of James Fowler and Arthur Chickering as well as other major developmental theories. The particular focus of the study is the Vincentian mission that guides the work of the service immersion program at St. John’s University. The research assessed the impact that service immersion programs had on the alumni who participated when they were undergraduate students. “Students who return from an immersion experience often report that it was “life-changing,” but how do we know that students’ lives have been changed, especially when change is best measured several months or years after the immersion” (Clark, 2019, p. 55)? Within the context of a Vincentian institution, what does that change mean focusing on their actions, cognitive growth, emotional growth, seeing value in being a good citizen, increasing their desire to serve, and spiritual growth? The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative research is to examine the impact of the St. John’s University service immersion program on its participants. The participants that were the focus of this study were three (3) alumni of St. John’s University. Participants were chosen through purposeful sample to ensure the established criterion for this study were satisfied. The demographics of the alumni that were interviewed included that they were a graduate of St. John’s University who voluntarily participated in a service immersion experience. The three (3) alumni participants who were interviewed 1) reflected different service immersion experiences, 2) reflected different time periods when the service immersion occurred, 3) included a mix of commuter and resident students when they participated in the service immersion experience and, 4) included alumni who are racially diverse. All of the data (in-depth semi-structured interviews, documents of formation sessions, journal methods and artifacts) were triangulated and the researcher developed a composite description.