Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Education

Department

Educational Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Tricia Browne-Ferrigno

Abstract

Citizens within the United States of America (USA) and the Commonwealth of Kentucky exhibit indicators of lessened health status in a variety of areas. Many chronic diseases and conditions are due to individual lifestyle behaviors, which can be modified through the implementation of dedicated health and wellness programming. Such programs, often housed within institutions of higher education, have the ability to impact many individuals including students, faculty, staff, and community members. This dissertation is a report of a mixed-methods study that begins to explore how state-supported postsecondary institutions may be able to impact individual behavior and thus, resulting health outcomes. This relationship is not only beneficial for the targeted individuals but also for the institutions, which may experience heightened success and sustainability.

This research employs both quantitative and qualitative methods to gain an understanding of the current level of influence of state-supported postsecondary education in Kentucky on the health of its citizenship. Those working in various on-campus health and wellness departments at the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, and Eastern Kentucky University were surveyed. Next, key leaders at each university involved with these programming efforts were interviewed along with Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education officials, to gain an understanding of the leadership perspectives surrounding this issue. Finally, site visits at each university were completed to elicit knowledge regarding campus environments and how supportive they are in positively influencing individual health and wellbeing.

It is possible that with more extensive findings across the Commonwealth of Kentucky and across the USA, a greater rationale can be made for institutional and state-wide leadership support of health and wellness programming efforts on college campuses. Resulting outcomes have great potential to be both robust and reciprocal to the university and its community members.

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