Date of Award



© 2015 Laura Bertonazzi

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Kathleen V. Davis

Second Advisor

Michelle Collay

Third Advisor

Frank Montecalvo


This dissertation examined the postcrisis intervention preferences of a purposeful sample of 23 Resident Directors from 17 Catholic colleges and universities in New England. Using survey and interview data, this study explored whether Resident Directors at the sample institution had preferences regarding services they needed following exposure to a student death and whether these support preferences were aligned with the Catholic identities of their institutions. The research questions that guided this study were: (a) How do Resident Directors at Catholic colleges and universities describe their roles as first responders during a campus crisis?, (b) How do Resident Directors at Catholic colleges and universities identify and describe the support they need following crisis?, (c) How do Resident Directors at Catholic colleges and universities interpret the pastoral element of their institutional identity as part of a postcrisis support strategy?, and (d) Is there a crisis debriefing strategy that is preferred by Resident Directors who have experienced a campus crisis?

Findings indicate that Resident Directors are susceptible to compassion fatigue on a chronic basis. For those that have experienced a crisis, the findings suggest preferences towards community and peer-centered support services, with an emphasis on time off. Data does not indicate a preference towards pastoral crisis interventions with campus ministry staff, despite a positive association with religious gatherings. Whereas the community elements of the Catholic institutions were identified as a positive asset, meetings with individual clerical staff were not identified as a specific postcrisis preferences. This study may support student affairs administrators in their supervision of Resident Directors on their campuses in understanding the stressors of these positions and the impacts on work performance and staff retention. This study may also assist Catholic institutions of higher education in their assessment of how mission-driven practices influence employee impressions and attitudes.


Ed.D. Dissertation

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