Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

Document Type



Studies concerning spirituality and higher education, particularly for the college student, are beginning to appear in journals, conference papers, and presentations. However, there is little research conducted with professionals in higher education on the construct of spirituality. Spirituality has so many different definitions in the literature, it is difficult to define, and perhaps even more complex to study academically. Using a research-based conceptual model for religious faith, developed within the study of family sciences, this study examines the lived experience of how and why Catholic women administrators connect their faith and leadership in a setting of public institutions of higher education. Using a grounded theory qualitative approach to research the how, why and processes of the faith and leadership connection for women administrators, interviews were conducted with ten Catholic women administrators. Findings include four emergent themes which begin to explain and deepen the understanding of how religious faith and leadership are connected at work. These themes, with sub-themes, include: Faith at the Core of Identity, Using Faith and Leadership Connection for Performance Management (Management of Self and Management of Supervisees), Specific Actions of Faith and Leadership (Use of Faith in Decision-Making: Prayer; Faith as Action: Service Orientation, Valuing Others, Relationship Building, Doing the Right Thing), and Challenges in Practicing Faith (Public Institution Factors; Implicit/Explicit Actions/Thoughts). These findings begin the research agenda to study faith and leadership, particularly in settings of public institutions of higher education. One research recommendation from the study was continued qualitative study approaches interviewing a wider sample of women leaders, including those of other faith denominations and geographically diverse regions of the United States. Practical implications for Human Resource offices, as well as Catholic parishes and diocese are included. As the women themselves articulate the connection of faith and leadership as inseparable, with faith as the foundation of their leadership, more is understood about the way women of faith lead in public institutions of higher education. Universities and the Catholic parishes and diocese are positioned to provide time, space, and training initiatives for leadership development.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Burnett, Michael