HIED 66655: Case Studies in Higher Education

Syllabus Description:

This course integrates concepts and skills addressed throughout the M.Ed. program in Higher Education Administration and Student Personnel (HIED). It affords students the opportunity to develop and improve decision-making skills and to increase understanding of concepts and current practices in student affairs and higher education administration. The class aims to assist in clarifying thinking and values about individual and collective actions in higher education and to polish the ability to communicate that analysis both orally and in writing. Students are expected to share responsibility for collaborative problem-solving involving complex issues in student development and higher educational leadership by involving others in discussing ideas, problems, strategies, and assisting them in clarifying their thinking and emotions. Through the use of case materials and participant-dominated discussion sessions, this course attempts to replicate the complex reality which an administrator faces, presents an opportunity to develop analytical skills, and provides an opportunity to critique and develop a personal administrative style. The course draws on a range of salient topics including leadership and governance, student development, diversity, law, and business administration as they relate to participants in colleges and universities including higher education staff and administrators, faculty, and students.


The case studies course provides a sort of capstone to the program. Throughout the semester, I have needed to recall what I have learned in various different courses and apply theories, paradigms, and use ethical best practices to organize a response to different emergent situations on hypothetical and historical campuses.

This course, without a doubt the most challenging course I have taken in this program, has given me a strong idea what to expect as a student affairs professional. While many of the cases we have investigated this semester have fallen under the "worst-case scenario" category, I believe higher education and student service administrators are required to balance different responses to challenging situations frequently.

As a professional higher education administrator, I will rarely have the luxury of as much time as we were given in this course to prepare responses in emergencies, but this course has helped me to consider alternative action plans.


Broadly, students will know what to do, when they don’t know what to do. More specifically, using case study analysis students will demonstrate the ability to apply concepts and knowledge acquired throughout the HIED program. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe, synthesize, and reflect upon the components of and experience in one‘s graduate program;

  • Identify focal problems to be addressed within a presented set of circumstances;

  • Differentiate important facts from peripheral facts and determine their importance in a particular context;

  • Identify, integrate, and use for analysis pertinent research, scholarship, and theoretical frameworks relevant to the problem under consideration;

  • Articulate ideas in a manner that includes sensitivity to diverse perspectives and audiences;

  • Demonstrate increased facility in analysis of the complex, technical, and adaptive problems and issues which higher education administrators face;

  • Develop an action strategy and defend it cogently and concisely both orally and in writing, appropriate to completion of a graduate program in Higher Education;

  • Describe the events of May 4, 1970 in order to speak coherently and instructively in professional contexts outside of KSU.

Key Assignments:

Case Studies – The bulk of the work in this course involved responding to hypothetical, critical situations that could happen at institutions of higher education. In each case, I and a group of my peers played the role of a higher education administrator or student affairs professional. We used the theoretical knowledge and other information we have learned during the course of the program in order to respond in the best possible manner.

  • Group Response to "Hatred in the Heartland" case

Portfolio – This very portfolio was completed as an assignment for the case studies class.