Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Fred J. Galloway, EdD, Chair; Ronn Johnson, PhD, Member; Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Member


campus climate, demographic measures, empirical study, employee relations, higher education system, managerial malpractice, universities


Over the last decade, the rapid rise in college tuitions and fees has become a national priority, with congressional committees and scholars interested in solving this persistently stubborn and often intractable problem. Although a number of reasons for this phenomenon have been discussed, one theoretically plausible but untested explanation involves the extent to which campus climate may be empirically linked to the costs of managing various legal claims against the university, including workers' compensation, employment practice, and stress claims. To test the empirical validity of this hypothesis, this study gathered campus climate and claims data from 23 campuses and 25 auxiliary enterprises that comprise a large statewide system of public four-year higher education. The campus climate data, which was generated via a survey of risk managers, human resource professionals, and select others, produced a series of four climate indices that described the state of communications, codetermination, support, and rewards among supervisors and employees. Results suggest that on campuses and in auxiliaries, the relationships among supervisors and employees are strongest in terms of support, followed closely by communications, rewards and codetermination. Most importantly, these index scores are almost exactly in the middle of the distribution, suggesting that on average, this system is neither excelling nor failing in terms of campus climate. When this campus climate data was used together with select demographic measures to explain variation in the number, dollar value, and per-capita number of claims, two variables were consistent predictors—whether or not the unit was a campus or auxiliary and the size of the unit. Unfortunately, there was little evidence to support the empirical linkage between campus climate and claims, with the exception of the codetermination index, which was a significant predictor of the dollar value of workers' compensation cases; specifically, the higher the level of codetermination the lower the dollar value of workers' compensation claims. Taken together, these results suggest that there is clearly room for improvement in the campus climate within this system, and that furthermore, increases in the level of codetermination within the system may lead to reductions in the dollar value of workers compensation claims.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access