Term of Award

Fall 2000

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Administration

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Ron Davison

Committee Member 1

Kenneth F. Clark

Committee Member 2

John H. Daily

Committee Member 3

Harbison Pool

Committee Member 4

Michael D. Richardson

Abstract

Higher education in the U.S. is challenged by declining public confidence and budget constraints. A resulting search for new strategies to meet societal needs, improve instruction, enhance access, and increase productivity has led many to Internet-based applications. Most of the literature on presidential attitudes and perceptions with regard to Internet-based applications is subjective. This study provides a quantitative and generalizable survey of 221 presidents from Research, Doctoral, and Master's I institutions. Such research is needed because of the visionary role presidents play in academe.

The findings suggest that presidents tend to be proactive, involved, and, with a measure of caution, enthusiastic about Internet-based applications. Most are regular users of the Internet and 97% expect the Internet to help in meeting the needs of potential students. The majority hope to see major increases in numbers of students who take Internet-based courses and one-quarter want more completely online programs.

These presidents indicated their high expectations for using the Internet to meet the needs of potential and current students, the public, faculty, and the institution. Improving institutional visibility, reputation, and quality of instruction were also highly ranked. Lower expectations exist with regard to cost containment.

Some prognosticators have warned that the Internet could destroy traditional, campus-based programs. These presidents did not agree with such dire predictions. Only a small portion of respondents perceived Internet-based applications as threatening to the survival or function of their institutions. Only 13% agreed that, "Internet-based competition threatens the long-term stability of my institution." One-third did express concern that the Internet will bring excessive commercialism of higher education and 45% agreed, "My institution must offer Internet programs to survive."

Perceptions of threats and opportunities vary somewhat with the size and type of institutions. Presidents of research and doctoral designated institutions rated opportunities presented by Internet-based technology significantly higher than did the Master's-designated schools.

This study also provides a new survey instrument with evidence of validity. The instrument contains scales that have been demonstrated to have internal reliability.

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