Date Awarded

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Pamela L Eddy

Committee Member

Virginia M Ambler

Committee Member

Carlane J Pittman


Mid-level student affairs professionals are leaving the field at an alarming rate. Even though many studies have given considerable attention to the reasons employees leave, less attention has been given to the reasons they decide to stay. The purpose of this mixed-methods sequential explanatory study was to examine factors influencing mid-level student affairs professionals’ retention at two public, medium to small size, 4-year universities in the Mid-Atlantic region. First, the administration of a survey to student affairs professionals at two selected institutions occurred to assess their job embeddedness at the institutions. Interviews, through a narrative approach, with select mid-level student affairs professionals followed that explored in more depth reasons these professionals indicate they have stayed in their positions. The goal in the explanatory interview follow-up was to investigate how the three variables of the Job Embeddedness Model—links, fit, and sacrifice—serve as predictors of longevity in student affairs positions. Additionally, the interviews provided a deeper look into these professionals’ lives and the reasons they decide to stay or leave the profession. The findings of the study are significant to professional stakeholders who want to implement program changes to support their retention efforts of mid-level leaders. Such use of the data may positively impact the student affairs profession by improving retention programs centered on the unique needs of mid-level student affairs professionals. Further, the data may greatly impact the culture of institutions by shifting the nature of their relationship with student affairs professionals.




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