Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Kerrigan, Monica Reid

Committee Member 1

Gruber, Carol

Committee Member 2

Ieva, Kara


University towns


Higher Education


The purpose of this mixed methods study was to examine the perceptions of a sense of community held by non-student residents within the campus-adjacent neighborhoods of a college town. Employing an explanatory sequential design, the study further explored any differing perceptions of a sense of community held after participation in a community-wide program modeled after Texas A&M University's The Big Event. Residents of owner-occupied homes in neighborhoods that have experienced "studentification"(Smith, 2008) were surveyed with the Sense of Community Index 2 (Chavis, Lee, & Acosta, 2008) in order to understand the established Psychological Sense of Community (PSOC). Follow-up interviews were completed with Back To The Boro participants and non-participants. Three findings emerged that coincided with the four component subscales of PSOC. Finding One, "It's Going To Be Rowan-boro Soon," points to participant's sense of Membership and Reinforcement of Needs. Finding Two, "We Don't Have This Chronic Issue With the Youth of the Community. They're Not the Issue," illuminates the sense of Influence. And, Finding Three, "As Long As I Stay Here, I'll Always Try to Build Bridges," articulates the sense of Shared Emotional Connection. Ultimately, this study calls for shifts in both policy and practice that focus town-gown relationships as more than a reaction to negative student behaviors. Recommendations are made for educational leaders to transform these relationships.