Public finance and outcomes in higher education
Welch, Jennie Christine
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This dissertation is comprised of three, distinct essays, each of which explores the utility of dimensional conceptualizations of publicness for understanding and explaining university outcomes and impact. The first essay explores the extent to which a university’s publicness affects university budgeting and finance outcomes. More specifically, the essay examines the extent to which varying degrees of state-authority over university tuition price-setting and tuition revenues affects a series of budget related outcomes including (1) the amount of public support a university receives; (2) university revenue diversification; and (3) the amount of resources a university spends on public-service related activities and programs. This essay employs fixed-effects and OLS regression analyses to explore these relationships. The OLS results provide limited support for the proposition that a university’s reliance on public support is inversely related to university tuition authority. However, the significance of the findings is sensitive to index construction. In addition, the fixed-effects results suggest that these relationships are not meaningful over time. The second essay is concerned with the extent to which university publicness affects the negotiating power of department chairs in personnel and hiring decisions. The essay applies maximum likelihood estimation to a nested structure of equations to explain both individual (department chair) and group level (university) variance. Findings suggest that a number of individual-level characteristics affect the amount of authority chairs have in faculty negotiations. However, the results do not suggest a strong association between public status or dimensional measures of publicness and department chair hiring authority. The final essay builds upon these findings, as well as findings from existing literature related to university performance measures to present a new conceptual model for comparative analyses of university performance—one that incorporates dimensional understandings of publicness and considers a university’s fulfillment of public value outcomes as the dependent variable of interest.