Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

Political Science


During my undergraduate career at Eastern Michigan University, I have had the privilege to study various aspects of public higher education through my public administration degree work. Most of that work has focused on the state of Michigan alone, giving me only one perspective on the inner workings of state colleges and universities. By the beginning of my final year, there were many questions that I had yet to answer because of my “domestic” focus on Michigan. Why are there so many schools in the state of Wisconsin that are called the University of Wisconsin? Are all universities independent from each other like the ones in Michigan are? Does any university allow students on its Board of Regents? This senior thesis is my opportunity to research and learn the answers to many of my questions regarding public higher education.

Since many of my questions are quite vague and have expansive responses, I have narrowed my study down to three case-study states: Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan. I also have ruled out any institutions that are not 4-year universities, in order to focus my analysis. Including the 2-year colleges and other institutions would lead this study into other directions that would not fit into the scope of my questions. Each of the three states has a distinct method of administering its public institutions of higher education. I will begin this study with rationale for choosing these three states as the paradigm for my research. Since many of my questions are of a similar nature, I have divided the majority of my research into two categories. The first category is governance, and revolves around issues such as the power structure within each state, including the division of authority and the makeup of the higher levels of administration. Secondly, I will analyze the funding and budget processes occurring in each state as they relate to higher education. While there are other issues that should be considered, the governance and funding issues are at focus in this study.