Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education

First Advisor

Johnson, Ane Turner

Second Advisor

Connor, Joanne

Third Advisor

Kerrigan, Monica Reid


College trustees--New Jersey


Higher Education


The purpose of this sequential explanatory study was to examine, through the lenses of sensemaking theory and professional authority, the relationship between how largely non-educational professionals in New Jersey experience their fiduciary responsibilities as trustees of the state's public colleges and universities and to what extent their professional orientations influence their oversight.

Trustees draw from a continuum of orientations to navigate their responsibilities and chief among them are professional orientation, institutionally-rooted orientation, and orientations as members of traditionally underrepresented populations. Trustees frequently engage in deferential activities with their fellow board members whose professional or other orientations provide needed context for their decision making. Trustees also rely on informal engagement with their institutions as a vehicle through which they make sense of their responsibilities. This engagement, as well as opportunities to apply their professional orientations to their duties as fiduciaries, contribute to trustee satisfaction but are limited in frequency. Implications for policy, practice, leadership, and research are discussed.