Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Dorothy E. Finnegan


This study examined the relationship between a college and its local government organizations in a community that engaged in property tax or voluntary contribution deliberations with nonprofit organizations to determine the extent to which these interactions altered the preceding town-gown relationship. Interorganizational relationship theory and social interaction theory provided a theoretical framework for data collection while cooperative interorganizational relationship (CIOR) theory was utilized in describing the findings.;A qualitative, single, embedded, descriptive case study was employed to investigate the town-gown relationship between Mercyhurst College and the City, County and Public School District of Erie, Pennsylvania to determine if and how the historical town-gown association was altered by a voluntary contribution request. The research findings reveal that the town-gown relationship between Mercyhurst College and its local government organizations was altered; instead of worsening the relationship, however, as the literature suggested, the relationship between the organizations was strengthened as a result of the deliberations.;Critical to the development of this relationship was a single individual, Dr. William Garvey, who not only showed a willingness to engage in a more cooperative relationship with the local government organizations, but also displayed the leadership qualities and personal characteristics necessary to establish and nurture an environment for the relationship to develop and evolve. First, he established Mercyhurst's reputation for cooperation in the Erie community by building a personal reputation for cooperation through his involvement in civic and political affairs. Second, he conveyed a willingness to engage in a more cooperative relationship with local government by actively utilizing college resources to meet government needs. Finally, he served as champion for the relationship for both town and gown, and created an environment that sustained cooperation as a result of his status as a community leader, interpersonal relationships with government officials and charismatic leadership style.



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