The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type




Degree Name

Higher Education Administration: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Michael Mills

Second Advisor

Chukwuemeka (Emeka) A. Ikegwuonu

Third Advisor

Steven McCullar

Fourth Advisor

Nancy Mills

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Onboarding, Newcomer, Student Support, Orientation


This study was designed to explore the onboarding experience of student support professionals in Midwestern universities within a state system. The 4 C’s of onboarding (Bauer, 2010[LJR1] ), specifically the building blocks of culture and connection, were used as a guide through the qualitative research design. The study offers insight into the socialization process, the broadest description of the relationship between the organization and the employee, and dives deeper into understanding how student support professionals make sense of the onboarding process in understanding the organizational norms, both formal and informal, and establish vital interpersonal relationships and information networks as newcomers.

[LJR1]2010 ref not in references



Education has played a major role in my life, personally and professionally. My parents have encouraged me through five decades of learning. Through education, I have met my closest friends and found a career that I love, focused on building relationships, to provide support and hope for students. The journey through doctoral coursework and writing has provided me with a deeper understanding of myself, my purpose, and my priorities.

I would like to thank those who have given me the support necessary to pursue a doctoral degree. I am most thankful to my husband, Neil, and my sons, Landon, and Salem, for their constant encouragement. My goal has always been for you to see me graduate. Colleen Kaiminaauao, mahalo. Thank you for journeying with me all these years. Your friendship is a gift. Thank you to all, near and far, for your constant encouragement. It kept me going.

My deepest thanks to my committee chair, Dr. Michael Mills, who never gave up on me. Our conversations were impactful. I wish you the very best in your retirement. Thanks also to Dr. Nancy Mills for your feedback and suggestions. You motivated me when you spoke to our cohort about your dissertation process and how you balanced your work, family and writing. Dr. Steven McCullar, thank you for the lively student support discussions which opened my eyes and influenced my work. Thanks also to Dr. Emeka Ikegwuonu for supporting my research. This research is a culmination of many experiences, hours of coursework, conversation, reading and writing, and continuous processing. I am grateful for the participants who shared their time and experiences. Finally, I am grateful for the overall commitment to the research and to one another, as higher education professionals.



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