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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

Year Degree Awarded

2017

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

Joseph B. Berger

Subject Categories

Higher Education

Abstract

As private philanthropy has become established as a critical source of financing for higher education institutions, a growing body of research has begun to explore those factors that enhance the likelihood that alumni will donate to their alma mater. One of the potential influences upon alumni giving that researchers have begun to investigate is how positive or negative student experiences increase or decrease the likelihood that alumni will “give.” However, much of this research focuses on the undergraduate alumni experience, and little consideration has been given to studying graduate alumni as a population with distinct giving tendencies, influences, and student experiences.

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between graduate student experience and graduate alumni giving. I use Astin’s (1970) theory of Input-Environment-Output to inform my theoretical framework, where personal characteristics (Inputs) interact with student behaviors, student perceptions, alumni behaviors, and alumni perceptions (Environment) to influence graduate alumni giving behaviors (Output). I use factor analysis to identify behavioral and perceptual factors within both student and alumni experience, Chronbach’s alpha reliability to verify variable cohesion, and path analysis to identify the most significantly influential variables on graduate alumni giving by calculating the direct, indirect, and total effects of personal characteristic, student behavior, student perception, alumni behavior, and alumni perception factors. The central hypothesis of the study was that positive student experiences will lead to increased graduate alumni donating behavior.

The results of the study somewhat support the hypothesis, in that student experiences had only moderate significant effects directly on graduate alumni giving. Personal characteristics also had moderate influence on giving, whereas alumni experiences had the most substantial influence on graduate alumni giving. However, both student experiences and person characteristics powerfully influenced alumni experience, which in turn has substantial influence on giving. Importantly, a reduced model is identified that provides an empirically tested framework for studying graduate alumni giving.

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