Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Pamela Eddy

Committee Member

Leslie Grant

Committee Member

Wilmarie Rodriguez


Institutions of higher education are no strangers to crisis situations. From world wars to campus violence, colleges and universities across the United States have been both directly and indirectly affected by these crisis situations. However, in the early part of 2020, higher education was faced with a situation that transcended anything colleges and universities had seen before—COVID-19. What made COVID-19 so unique was how the disease quickly permeated throughout the United States. Thus, a stage was set for institutions of higher education to defend their campuses and communities from a most historical pandemic. This study, understanding the historical significance of the COVID-19 pandemic, researched how two public universities in Virginia, William & Mary and the University of the Virginia, used email communication to inform the students, faculty, and staff of their respective institutions during the pandemic. A discourse analysis was conducted and found that both institutions framed their discourse using a science and data-driven approach coupled with a unity-based structural frame that advanced the rhetoric and narrative of their COVID-19 response.



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