Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Higher Education

First Advisor

Cecilia M. Orphan

Second Advisor

David A. Tandberg

Third Advisor

Laura Sponsler

Fourth Advisor

Alisa Hicklin Fryar

Fifth Advisor

Duan Zhang


Exploratory sequential mixed methods, Higher education policy, Public benefits, Realized publicness, State postsecondary goals, Value of higher education


States founded, control, and fund public postsecondary institutions because higher education helps meet state goals. Public institutions of higher education provide considerable public benefits to states, but these benefits have not been systematically measured. As a result, public conversations about the broad value proposition of higher education do not center the public benefits produced by institutions. Using a framework of empirical and realized publicness, this exploratory sequential mixed-methods study used content analysis of state agency mission and vision statements to identify state goals for public higher education. Quantitative measurements of institutional contributions to common state goals for higher education were developed using exploratory factor analysis. This study examined the extent to which public institutions such as research institutions, regional comprehensive institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and enrollment-based Minority Serving institutions provide realized publicness outcomes related to states’ goals for higher education. Random-effects and fixed-effects regression models were used to test the impacts of financial publicness, state governance structures, and state accountability on institutional realized publicness outcomes. State goals for public higher education’s contributions to society centered around providing broad access to affordability education regardless of a student’s demographic background, ensuring equal success for all students and boosting state attainment, educating the state’s workforce and providing economic development, and engaging with their communities and providing community development. The various contributions of public institutions to each of these state goals varied by the type of institution and, to a certain extent, varied based on the empirical publicness of the institution. Notably, financial publicness positively impacts institutional access and affordability incomes, and increased state authority has mixed and sometimes negative impacts on access, affordability, and workforce outcomes. This evidence indicates that the long-term trend toward privatization in higher education revenues negatively affects some of states’ primary purposes for higher education. As one of the first analyses of publicness in higher education, this study provides empirical evidence about the connection between publicness and institutional outcomes, which may aid state policymakers as they consider changes in their funding allocations, governance structure, and measures of accountability for higher education.

Publication Statement

Copyright held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Sophia Laderman


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

368 pgs


Higher education, Education policy, Education finance