Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




John R. Thelin


The purpose of this study was to contribute to an understanding of the milieu in which higher education policy is formed in the United States, using the Commonwealth of Virginia as a case study seeking to explain the image and saga of its State Council of Higher Education. Virginia is an appropriate state upon which to focus because it is taking its place among the leading states in public higher education.;Although control of higher education policy now resides largely in the states and their statewide coordinating councils and governing boards, there is not a clear identity of any state's presence. This study was an attempt to determine if such an identity exists, and, if so, to describe it using a distinctive approach to the recent history of American higher education.;Papers, policy and position statements, documents and Council minutes of State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) from 1977 to 1987 were studied. Interviews were conducted with persons involved in higher education in the Commonwealth 1977 to 1987. to evaluate legislative opinion about SCHEV, a questionnaire was mailed to each member of the 1988-89 General Assembly and responses compared with those from a similar 1976 survey. Newspaper reports and news releases were analyzed.;It was hypothesized that the concept of organizational saga which Burton Clark developed to explain campus image and evolution is useful as a method of analyzing and describing a statewide coordinating council of higher education.;It was concluded that the Clark's concept of organizational saga fits the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. as the story unfolded, it showed a formal organization with its own legend, with its own set of beliefs, and with pride in itself for major accomplishments in improving the state's system of higher education.;Further study is recommended on the appointment process by which lay persons fill positions on the higher education bodies, on measuring the effectiveness of statewide coordinating boards and the influence of their executive officers, on the construction of target budgets of the state system of higher education, and on the relationship between the State Council and the General Assembly.



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