Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ed.D.)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Katherine C. Aquino

Second Advisor

Catherine DiMartino

Third Advisor

Ceceilia Parnther


Tuition-dependent higher education institutions face myriad external and internal challenges, including waning public confidence, demographic shifts, systemic sluggishness, and reduced workforces. Research on higher education administration tends to focus on senior-level leaders, with the operational experience of rank-and-file administrators largely absent from scholarly inquiry. This research endeavors to address the gaps in research by centering the experiences of entry and mid-level non-unionized administrators at tuition-dependent institutions. Guided by systems theory and using Kathy Charmaz’s Constructivist Grounded Theory methodological approach, this research presents a grounded theory of broken trust and a foundational pipeline model to mitigate this breakdown in trust and foster systemic resilience among administrators at tuition-dependent higher education institutions. If implemented, the foundational pipeline model presents an opportunity to provide essential administrative members within individual higher education institutions the ability to both weather current challenges and be prepared to successfully navigate future internal and external disruptions. By cultivating systemic resilience among higher education administrators, this research can play a role in ensuring the long-term sustainability of higher education as a larger social system.