Pharr, Kathy Rogers
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Across the United States, policymakers at the state and federal level increasingly call for universities to expand access to higher learning, yet these institutions face funding constraints that make it difficult to maintain quality programs for the existing students enrolled. How will this demand be met? For a growing number of colleges and institutions, the answer lies at the periphery, as they become more entrepreneurial and expand instructional programs in extended (or branch) locations. In addition to helping to increase access, peripheral expansion offers other strategic advantages to an institution as well, many of them financially motivated. Also, extending the university across the state can build its brand, strengthening the connection to local citizens and policymakers, who wield an enormous influence over the funding allocated to public institutions. However, establishing an extended campus is not a decision to be made lightly. It represents a major strategic move for an institution because it devotes significant academic, financial, and political resources to the effort. The question of whether to establish a branch campus, and if so where, is a critically important one, as the costs of a poor decision could be quite damaging to the institution. This dissertation examines the experience of the University of Georgia in establishing an instructional extended campus in Gwinnett County, a rapidly growing metropolitan area less than an hour away from the main campus. Three primary questions drive the research: 1) What are the motivations for research universities to establish extended instructional campuses? 2) What are the internal and external dynamics that influence decisions regarding whether to establish branch instructional campuses, how to manage them, and where to site them? 3) Why and how do the stated purposes and missions of extended instructional campuses evolve over time? The dissertation connects the literature from political science, strategy, academic capitalism, organizational theory, finance, governance, adult education, and access to the topic of branch campuses in order to provide relevant information for academic leaders such as presidents, provosts, and deans to consider when contemplating the establishment of extended campuses.