Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Elizabeth Broughton, EdD

Committee Member

James Barott, PhD

Committee Member

Ronald Flowers, EdD

Committee Member

Robert Orrange, PhD


The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between fraternal organizations and the University of Michigan and the implications for student affairs. This study was conducted by analyzing three distinct eras (two eras of politicization and one era of quiescence). Each era featured conflict between fraternal organizations and institutional actors (faculty, staff), and was analyzed to determine what, if any, implications there were for student affairs at the University of Michigan. The conceptual framework applied concepts from areas pertaining to conflict and organizational theory. Additionally, these concepts were informed by research about political organizations. The research method used was a case study method. The conflicts analyzed in this study were examined through an historical context in which they occurred. Data was collected through document and record analysis, collectively referred to as artifacts. Examples of records included items such as rosters, grade files, and meeting minutes. Additional evidence reviewed were letters, newspaper articles, case studies, and photographs. The relationship between fraternal organizations and student affairs provided multiple implications for educational leaders. The first is the importance of understanding the historical nature of conflict, how it evolves, and the cyclical nature of conflict. Through this understanding, student affairs professionals are conflict managers. The second implication is the significant role of student affairs professionals in managing conflict. Regardless of the job title of a student affairs professional, this study demonstrated that all student affairs professionals are conflict managers. Finally, this study explained how educational leaders can use conflict to expand the role of student affairs and its various sub-units. Periods of conflict may create conditions where educational leaders can request additional staff and resources to better manage conflict.