ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

C. James Hardy


Research on residence directors, as well as on turnover in higher education in general, is limited (Janosik et al., 2003). This qualitative phenomenological study focused on understanding residence directors’ perceptions of the departure of a colleague. The literature on residence directors has shortcomings in that it focuses mostly on recruitment and retention and fails to look at what happens to the staff left behind after a colleague moves on (Belch & Mueller, 2003; Belch, Wilson, & Dunkel, 2009; Davidson, 2012). Understanding the effect of employee turnover on the remaining residence life staff is important because those staff members play key roles in student persistence and success (Belch & Mueller, 2003). The research questions examined how residence directors coped with the transition caused by the departure of their colleague. The theoretical framework that guided this exploratory study was Anderson, Goodman, and Schlossberg’s (2012) adult transition theory and their 4 S System for Coping which described the four core variables that determine one’s ability to cope with a transition: situation, self, support, and strategies. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, which provided details on the residence directors’ experiences with the departure. The eight participants who volunteered represented various housing and residence life departments within universities that are members of the Southwest Association of College and University Housing Officials (SWACUHO) region. The data were coded using the a priori coding and the 4 S System for Coping. The results of this study, through the lenses of situation, self, support, and strategies, suggested residence life departments that focus on communication, relationships, and supervisory support may be able to reduce costs, improve job satisfaction, reduce turnover, and increase productivity when an employee departure occurs.


Residence director, Departure, Attrition, Residence life


Education | Educational Leadership


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington