Date of Award

Summer 8-3-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Chair

Dr. Heather Annulis

Committee Chair Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 2

Dr. Cyndi Gaudet

Committee Member 2 Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 3

Dr. Dale Lunsford

Committee Member 3 Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 4

Dr. H. Quincy Brown

Committee Member 4 Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 5

Dr. Patti Phillips

Committee Member 5 Department

Human Capital Development

Abstract

The retention of college students is an issue that affects the student, the university, and the workforce. When a student does not graduate, they often either earn less over the period of their lifetime, or are unable to find a job. The workforce is affected because this means fewer qualified applicants to fill positions. Universities are impacted in many ways, including financially. Lower retention rates lead to less income from tuition and decreased funding from state and federal sources which base funding formulas on performance outcomes (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2014).

One way to increase the likelihood of student retention is through the integration of the students into the academic and social communities of the university (Tinto, 1987). Faculty and staff’s interactions with students can aid in this integration (Seidman et al., 2012). Employees that are engaged in their work are willing to do more than their position requires and demonstrate vigor, dedication, and absorption at work (Markos & Sridevi, 2010; Schaufeli, Bakker, & Salanova, 2006). Organizations with engaged employees typically outperform organizations with disengaged employees (Cascio & Boudreau, 2011).

The current study, conducted at The University of Southern Mississippi, is cross-sectional, descriptive, and non-experimental by design and explores six research objectives. The findings of the study include: faculty and staff at The University of Southern Mississippi are engaged in their work. A direct, positive relationship exists between work engagement levels and faculty and staff’s perception of influence on student integration and retention. Additional research should be conducted using a larger sample, to include other universities, to increase the generalizability of the results. It is also recommended that the relationship between work engagement and retention outcomes be measured.