Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Higher Education (EdD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Suzanne McCray

Committee Member

Ketevan Mamisheishivili

Second Committee Member

Leslie Jo Shelton


motivation, employee turnover, job duties, work environment, leadership styles, leadership strategies, workload, personality, Covid-19 pandemic


Although a large body of research exists within higher education that focuses on factors related to faculty motivation and student motivation, there is limited research concentrated on the motivation of college and university administrative staff. This study examined how job duties, work processes, elements of the work environment, and leadership styles are related to employee motivation, specifically the motivation of front-line support staff who work in the Office of the Registrar. Additionally, I aimed to identify any disconnect between what support staff need and want from supervisors in the Office of the Registrar pertaining to motivation and supervisors’ behavior to encourage high levels of motivation. The theoretical framework utilized Hertzberg’s Hygiene-Motivation Theory and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

This study involved Office of the Registrar personnel at two regional, public, four-year, non-system affiliated institutions in the Four State Area (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma) with a student population of no more than 10,000. The two institutions were randomly selected. The registrars from each institution participated in semi-structured, one-on-one interviews and document analysis. Additionally, four support staff members participated in semi-structured, one-on-one interviews and document analysis regarding the registrars’ leadership. Participants were asked to discuss their perceptions of current motivation levels of support staff in the office and how work responsibilities and the work environment affect motivation. Furthermore, participants were asked to discuss strategies used by registrars to motivate the staff and whether those motivators were successful. By coincidence, this study took place during the COVID-19 pandemic which strongly influenced the study results.