Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies


Educational Administration

First Advisor

Katherine Chaddock


The purpose of this study was to gain a stronger understanding of the characteristics that influence membership levels at dues-based alumni associations serving public universities. Prior studies have demonstrated that alumni association members are more likely to give to their institutions; and their gifts, on average, are larger than those of nonmembers (Webb, 1993; Patouillet, 2000; Newman, 2009). State support of public higher education has remained stagnant or decreased in many areas of the country, so contributions from alumni play a critical role in helping institutions fulfill their educational missions.

Based on previous institutional advancement research and this study's conceptual framework, resource-related, communication-related, reputational-related and student experience-related variables were examined to determine their impact on rates of membership of 57 dues-based alumni associations serving public universities. By understanding the alumni association and institutional characteristics that associate most strongly with the percentage of graduates who become members, leaders of alumni associations can take more targeted steps to grow their membership.

The major findings of this study are listed here. (1) The independent variables examined in this study explained nearly 46% of the variation around the percentage of graduates who became dues-paying members of their alumni associations. (2) Alumni association characteristics, on average, had stronger correlations with membership levels than did institutional characteristics. (3) In particular, the variables `years since the founding of the association' and `size of staff per graduate' associated most strongly with rates of membership. (4) Since each of the communication-related variables had a positive correlation with membership levels, this study's findings further highlight the benefits of communicating with alumni on a regular basis while maintaining current contact information. Specific recommendations for practitioners and researchers are offered at the conclusion of this study.


© 2010, Andrew P. Christopherson