Date of Award



© 2017 Nicholas Gill

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Marylin Newell

Second Advisor

Laura Bertonazzi

Third Advisor

John Rainone


Higher education has a rich history steeped in the assumed trust of academia; however, shrinking resources have increased the demand for more objective assessment. Institutional Researchers (IR) have emerged as agents of change, adding college-wide assessment to their responsibilities alongside pragmatic reporting (Ross & Swing, 2016; Terenzini, 2012). As data-driven culture is still a relatively new institutional framework, IR may hold the key to engendering trust around this new status quo (Kirby & Floyd, 2016). This study explored the role of organizational structure in promoting the strategic success of Institutional Researchers. The researcher examined eight field professionals through the conceptual lens of transformational leadership. Each participant willingly participated in a triangulated data collection strategy which employed a formal document review; written qualitative survey; and semi-structured, qualitative interview. The data collected highlighted four key emergent themes that are indicative of successful strategic IR, including the role of proximity to central leadership, strong supervisory support, and shared actions. The study findings suggest that taking action to empower communication with senior leaders and advocate for managerial support are imperative to advancing strategic IR. In addition, the study illuminated several ways that institutional leaders can cultivate professionals who support a data-driven, assessment-focused culture.


Ed.D. Dissertation