Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award



Document Type



Educational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Dr. Peter Williams

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Dr. Scott Strawn

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Dr. Samantha Huffaker


Numerous studies and national data show a growing number of small, private, Christian colleges face extreme difficulties, which often result in decline, followed by closure or merging with larger, higher education institutions. Attempting to overcome the loss of student revenue from a declining enrollment, many small colleges raise tuition prices, spend endowment funds, and overextend themselves with high debt payments. Countering the increased tuition prices, these colleges often increase scholarships and financial aid, which reduces available funds for other institutional needs. Other challenging issues include meeting accreditation standards, raising money for operational and capital needs, and the general public losing confidence in their perceived value. However, some small, private, Christian colleges overcome these issues of decline and are able to revitalize or turnaround. The purpose of this mixed methods, single case study was to understand how Seymore University overcame decline and implemented a turnaround while having an enrollment of fewer than 1,000 students and an endowment of less than $15 million. Specifically, this study investigated if Seymore University in 2008 or 2009 met four of the six indicators of decline as found in a 1993 study by Ruth Cowan of 16 small colleges, which included a prescription for turnaround. Furthermore, this study investigated if Seymore University successfully implemented a turnaround in 2010. Fifteen participants were interviewed in the qualitative portion of this study to answer five research questions regarding how Seymore University overcame decline and began to turnaround. Quantitative research for these questions was accomplished by examining enrollment data, financial data, expense data, and ratios, and related areas. The board of directors was key at slowing the decline at Seymore University by implementing extensive budget cuts and by hiring a new president. The new president is credited with refocusing their mission, training employees, improving communication, and creating internal systems, which achieved record enrollment and fundraising, increased degree programs, and engaged the community. Turnaround continues at Seymore University as it attempts to overcome challenges of further increasing enrollment, providing pay raises, and hiring back positions previously cut.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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