Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Tarule, Jill


Historically fund raising, or development, in higher education was the purview of only private four-year colleges; today, however, virtually all institutions of higher education are engaged in this endeavor. Attaining an institution‘s fundraising goals has become an integral part of a university president‘s or chancellor‘s role, consuming a high percentage of the CEO‘s time. While the president works very closely with the development office in garnering private support, there is often another player significant to the success of a university‘s development efforts. ―Hired‖ along with the CEO, the individual serves a major role, but has no job description and often works without a contract or remuneration. This is the spouse of the CEO. This study employed qualitative methodology to elucidate the role of the university CEO‘s spouse in development, alumni relations, and fund raising. The research focused on the traditional president‘s spouse, a female married to a male CEO. Seventeen interviews with spouses, development officers, and university trustees at seven different public land-grant universities were conducted to explore several questions: whether the spouse‘s role in development is formalized; whether the spouse was aware of the school‘s expectations for her in this area; the role of professional development staff in assisting the first lady; whether the spouse is recognized or compensated for her duties; how the spouse‘s role could be improved; and what could be done to make the role more satisfying, productive, or efficient. Several thematic areas were addressed regarding the first lady: (a) interview processes, (b) qualities, (c) support of the president, (d) role in development, (e) role in the university community, (f) acknowledgement, and (g) public opinion. The findings provide a multifaceted view of the role of the university president‘s wife in development. Recommendations for improving the role of the presidential spouse in university development include fostering open communication between all parties, tailoring the role to the individuals and institutions involved, and acknowledging the role of the spouse.