Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Kortegast, Carrie A.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


The purpose of this dissertation was to understand the experience of higher education crisis leaders while facing an unprecedented crisis. COVID-19 thrust senior student affairs professionals, who most often serve as crisis leaders on small college campuses, into the position of decision-maker guiding the campus response to the pandemic. The research explored the crisis leadership experience of SSAOs during the first year of their crisis response. Five themes emerged from the data collected during the research: a) the influence of institutional structure and culture on decisions, b) uniqueness of crisis decision making, c) engagement and utilization of human resources, d) changes to professional practice/profile, and e) the emotional toll of crisis leadership. Implications for practice are offered as a result of the research conducted.


96 pages




Northern Illinois University

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In Copyright

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NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type