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

Steven McCullar

Second Advisor

Rachel Friedensen

Third Advisor

Mumbi Mwangi

Fourth Advisor

Judith Siminoe

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

academic freedom, new knowledge, and knowledge production


This research aims at exploring the impact of institutional policies on professors’ academic freedom in higher education institutions in Minnesota. This research used a qualitative method and an in-depth interview approach to explore the topic. Data were collected not only from research participants’ perspectives, but also from their real stories and experiences. Research findings indicated that research participants from both private and public institutions had foundational concepts of academic freedom. Research participants perceived critical roles of academic freedom in their professional life, in the institutional life, and in students’ life. Research findings showed critical factors in research participants’ career life that undermined academic freedom, thus, knowledge production. These factors came from different sources such as students, research funding criteria, political agenda, accrediting agencies, institutional policies, organizational culture, and personal identities. More than ever before, academic freedom needs defense if students, institutions, and society want to have a functional and excellent education and if new knowledge is the ultimate goal for this civilization.



First, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Dr. Steven McCullar, my academic advisor, for his time and energy to guide me through this culminating project. I could not have accomplished this study without his support and advice.

I also would like to thank Dr. Rachel Friedensen and Dr. Mumbi Mwangi, who are experienced qualitative researchers in and out of the field of Higher Education Administration, for their valuable insights, sharing research skills, and challenging questions for me during the research process so that I can go in the right direction and achieve the best outcomes possible for the research.

Especially, I would like to take this moment to thank the two higher education institutions that allowed my research conducting at their institutions and facilitated the research participant recruitment process. I deeply express my gratitude to the four professors of these two institutions who spent their time and shared their invaluable knowledge to help me find the answers for my research questions. Unfortunately, for the purpose of ensuring data confidentiality of both the institutions and research participants, I have to acknowledge their great help without addressing their names.

Finally, I’d like to extend my appreciation to Dr. Melanie Guentzel, the Director of Graduate Student Services and Institutional Review Board, for her support to the paperwork processes for my research and my graduation.


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