Kayla Elliott

Florida Atlantic University

Kayla Elliott is pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Fisk University and served as a student representative on the university’s board of trustees. Kayla also holds a Masters from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Her research interests include higher education policy, equity, and philanthropy, with an emphasis on Minority-Serving Institutions. She specifically studies how performance funding systems impact Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Dissertation Abstract: Performance based funding (PBF) policies use formulas to explicitly connect some or all of a state institution’s annual funding to institutional performance metrics and student outcomes. PBF is complicated by power structures like state coordinating and governing boards, institutional boards, administrative hierarchies, and faculty senates. Little empirical study has been conducted on the policies’ impact on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The purpose of Kayla’s case study is to understand how PBF has influenced the power dynamics both within an institution, and between that institution and the state. The research questions guiding the dissertation are: 1)What is the influence of performance based funding on power and relationships between HBCUs and the state? 2) What is the influence of performance based funding on power and relationships within HBCUs? and 3) Which theory best explains the influence of performance based funding in this context? The case study relies on the collection of diverse data, including interviews, documents, and observations. To create a model for understanding the power dynamics in this context, Kayla’s dissertation employs three competing theories: resource-dependence theory, principal-agent theory, and critical race theory. Multiple rounds of analysis will be conducted to identify dominant codes and categories. The resultant codes will be analyzed through the three lenses. The findings will present a few, central themes and a framework for understanding power dynamics of HBCUs in this context using the theory(ies) which best fit. The dissertation will offer policy solutions, as well as recommendation for organizational change and decision making.