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THE SUN EXPERIENCE: A HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA PROGRAM UTILIZING THE ORGANIZATIONAL LIFE CYCLE PERSPECTIVE

MARVIN J VAN KEKERIX, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

This dissertation is an analysis of the State University of Nebraska or SUN project--a pioneer effort in expanding access to higher education through the extensive use of educational technology. The program, which was widely acclaimed during its early days, had a short life. Created in 1971, it no longer existed in its original form after 1979. Yet, it deserves study because the SUN experience represents a significant effort in innovation by a major institution of higher education. Although this study is primarily historical in nature, the analysis of the SUN experience is set within a theoretical framework suggested by the concept of the organizational life cycle. According to students of the organizational life cycle, organizations evolve through a succession of developmental stages which they have labeled prehistory, creation, early development, transformation, decline, and termination and aftermath. These stages establish the overall organizational structure for the study of the SUN experience. The research upon which this study is based is primarily historical in nature, drawing on a variety of oral and documentary evidence. Documentary evidence concerning SUN and the University of Mid-America (UMA) was secured from an extensive collection of materials related to UMA deposited with the Nebraska State Historical Society as well as from smaller collections held by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Archives and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Division of Continuing Studies. Personal interviews with important figures in the development of the program were also conducted. The study suggests that the organizational life cycle perspective is a useful tool for analyzing organizations and the interaction between an organization and its environment. The important role that key individuals play in the creation and early development of innovative organizations is also underscored, as is the complex nature of organizational creation. In addition, the difficulty of transfering technical models from one environment to another and the need to incorporate a curricular focus in attempts to expand access to higher education are noted. The study suggests that many of the barriers to participation cannot be overcome by educational technology alone.

Subject Area

Adult education|Continuing education

Recommended Citation

VAN KEKERIX, MARVIN J, "THE SUN EXPERIENCE: A HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA PROGRAM UTILIZING THE ORGANIZATIONAL LIFE CYCLE PERSPECTIVE" (1986). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI8620823.
https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI8620823

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