Date of Award

Summer 8-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Coastal Resilience

Committee Chair

Robert J. Pauly

Committee Chair School

Coastal Resilience

Committee Member 2

Joseph J. St. Marie

Committee Member 2 School

Coastal Resilience

Committee Member 3

Tom Lansford

Committee Member 3 School

Coastal Resilience

Committee Member 4

Troy M. Gibson

Committee Member 4 School

Social Science and Global Studies


In the 2020 American presidential election and throughout the time since, the discussion of free community college continues to raise its head in the present political landscape in the United States. As the recognition of the contribution of community colleges to the overall educational level of the country grows, increased focus is going to be placed on how efficient and effective these two-year institutions are.

This research expands the body of knowledge by combining Resource Dependency Theory (RDT) and Astin’s Input-Environment-Output (IEO) model into an educational production function as defined by Bowles (1970). Neither RDT nor IEO is complete on its own as used to date in an educational environment. This model is then applied to the Mississippi Community College system, the oldest and one of the most widely acclaimed systems in the United States, to develop a predictive model of college Completion Rates.

RDT indicates that any organization responds to its resources in an attempt to garner more resources. This research shows that RDT helps explain Astin’s IEO model and how institutions respond to their respective resources (i.e., inputs) by operational changes (i.e., environment) in their attempt to influence completion rates (i.e., outputs).

Astin’s (1991) work emphasizes that even disparate students can complete their educational endeavors if the environment is appropriate. Astin (1970) contends three relationships at play in higher education: Inputs-environment, Environment-outputs, Inputs-outputs. This model created here expounds on both RDT and IEO and finds that resources/inputs matter but that also the environment matters. Some items are outside of the control of the colleges, but some items that affect completion rates are within control of both faculty and administrators.

As budgetary constraints become more pronounced and performance-based funding becomes more common, colleges must be aware and work smarter, not just harder to fulfill their mission.