Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies


Catholic Educational Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Desiree Zequera

Second Advisor

Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales

Third Advisor

Walter Gmelch


The larger neoliberal environment that is driving all of higher education has left Jesuit universities and their leadership to face two problems. First, the ability for Jesuit universities to uphold their social justice inspired mission and offer an affordable and accessible liberal education is being threatened because they are pricing out those they seek to serve. Second, there is a growing disconnect between the espoused mission of Jesuit universities and the decisions that their leaders and administrators make to run the enterprise.

This explanatory case study seeks to understand the ways senior-level strategic enrollment officers at Jesuit universities experience and navigate tensions that exist between espoused mission and neoliberal pressures, which throughout this study is referred to as the space between. This study offers a descriptive analysis of recent IPEDS data exploring variables related to access and affordability at Jesuit universities. More substantially, data for this study was collected through semi-structured interviews with 11 vice presidents of enrollment from Jesuit universities.

Key findings emerged through participant reflections and were organized into three thematic sections. First, commitment to mission significantly impacts participants experience navigating the space between. Second, without sufficient resources to run the enterprise, Jesuit universities cannot enact their mission. Third, navigating the space between espoused mission and neoliberal pressure is a complex endeavor. Ultimately this study calls for a new paradigm that shifts the metrics by which Jesuit universities measure success away from financial outcomes that are rooted in neoliberalism to outcomes that are grounded in equity and thereby mission enactment.