Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




John R. Thelin


Teaching, research, and service constitute the three commonly articulated missions of American colleges and universities. The purpose of this study was (1) to examine whether public service is a viable element of the college mission or a marginal activity and (2) to analyze the forces that shape the public service responsibility of a given institution. The specific aspect of public service addressed is the college's role in providing continuing educational opportunities for adults in the surrounding community.;The College of William and Mary in Virginia was selected as a case study because of the wide variations it has undergone in character, purpose, and leadership. It was hypothesized that the interpretation of William and Mary's public service responsibility changed significantly with the shifting emphases in institutional mission. Also investigated was the possibility of a relationship between increased prestige and selectivity and diminished provision for continuing education. The scope of the study was from 1906, when the College became state-supported, to 1972, when credit-bearing extension courses were discontinued.;External forces that were found to influence the public service aspect of mission were political, military, economic, and demographic. Internal forces included changes in presidential leadership and disputes over the college's primary identity. The competing images of William and Mary were those of the prestigious liberal arts college renowned for its colonial heritage and the state-supported, service-oriented institution with a legacy of teacher education and broadly-based educational opportunity.;It was concluded that the public service mission is not constant but changes over time as an institution evolves; that public service is not a static list of obligations but a dynamic response to the circumstances that shape the identity of a college; and that the key to the type and extent of public service is the perception of the constituencies to be served. More study is needed on individual faculty initiatives in public service, the role of the student in public service, and the development of partnerships between colleges and corporations in addressing public needs.



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