Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version



A THESIS Present to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of Professor Debra Mullen. Lincoln, NE: May, 2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Sylvia S. Jons


The importance of the internationalization of higher education is well documented, however there is little research that focuses on senior level administrators and their pursuit in developing an internationalization strategy. Internationalization as defined by Knight (2004) is “the process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions or delivery of post-secondary education”. This case study addressed this pursuit and examined the process that university top-level administrators use in internationalizing a public research university in the Midwest. A case study is the appropriate qualitative research method because it explored senior-level administrators pursuit of internationalization within a bounded system, the Midwest University System.

Overall data collection was two-fold. Semi-structured interviews served as primary data for analysis while secondary data included public document analysis. The case study provided institutions and senior-level administrators insight into strategies for internationalization of higher education. The study’s findings were three-fold. First, important leadership qualities among senior leaders were identified. Second, strategic qualities in developing an internationalization plan were recognized. Third, a case study focused on the internationalization process of a large Midwest public research university provided a deeper understanding into the struggles, approaches, and successes of senior leadership in their global engagement efforts.

Benefits to the participants included the ability to shed light on leadership approaches, challenges, strategies, and issues top level administrators face as they internationalize their university. Such questions may foster further dialogue on the direction and strategy of internationalization within the university system. Overall, the study is beneficial and significant to other universities and administrators in their global engagement efforts and provides additional knowledge to the internationalization of higher education field of research.

Adviser: Debra Mullen