Date of Submission

Spring 5-9-2017

Document Type



Doctor of Education



OIP Defense Chair

Elan Paulson


student retention, first-year, change, improvement, best practices


As demographics shift, student retention and attrition rates are increasingly becoming of greater concern to the overall viability and longevity of post-secondary institutions. This Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP) examines some of the challenges faced by a small, liberal arts, faith-based university in southern Ontario which, in recent years, have impacted its enrolment and retention from first to second year. With some of the probable challenges identified, the study provides a strategy for guiding institutional change and possible solutions which may aid in the encouragement and support of continued enrolment from those students who would normally be at risk for withdrawing. Using existing public institutional data on enrolment and student services, as well as data from various federal and provincial government bodies, the case for this institution’s declining enrolments and its organizational impact is illustrated. Based on these findings, an examination and application of theories of educational leadership and frameworks for organizational change is discussed. Creating institutional awareness and a sense of urgency of the situation will permit suggestions and potential implementation of an improvement plan which considers best practices and proven methods from other comparable institutions that may positively affect retention at this university.