Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Ogren, Christine A

First Committee Member

Sanders, Katrina

Second Committee Member

Bills, David

Third Committee Member

Hollingworth, Liz

Fourth Committee Member

Storrs, Landon


Using archival records preserved by Iowa’s community colleges, private four-year colleges, and public universities, this dissertation examines how Iowa’s established higher education institutions responded to and adjusted to the presence of new two-year colleges from 1965 to 1975. This decade was a critical period of development for Iowa two-year colleges as they were most vulnerable to and influenced by other education institutions during an economic downturn. This study also explores how the curricular tension between vocational education and liberal arts education shaped early relationships between Iowa’s new two-year colleges and other higher education institutions. Specifically, this dissertation examines six two-year colleges, seventeen private four-year colleges, and three public universities to understand how the curricular purpose, mission and identity, position in the higher education hierarchy, and reputation of each type of institution played a role in early relationship-building. Ultimately, this study sought to answer the question whether the state’s new two-year colleges developed relationships with other higher education institutions that increased educational opportunities for Iowa students.

Chapter 2 explains how officials from Merged Area I and Western Iowa Tech, two of Iowa’s two-year colleges founded as vocational-only institutions, persisted in their efforts to offer liberal arts education. Officials from neighboring private colleges resisted their efforts because they believed two-year colleges that offered liberal arts education posed a competitive threat. Chapter 3 explores how Iowa’s two-year colleges posed a financial threat, as well as a curricular threat. Part I highlights how Iowa private college officials confronted the financial threat by collaborating with the Iowa Association of Private Colleges and Universities to advocate for the Iowa Tuition Grant. Part II shows how eight private colleges responded to the curricular threat in three distinct ways: strengthening their role as a liberal arts college, making significant institutional changes for long-term survival, and changing or creating new curricular programs. This dissertation also considers the contributions of Iowa’s three public universities, Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Iowa. Chapter 4 explains how each university responded in a distinct way to the presence of two-year colleges.

This dissertation concludes by explaining how this study contributes to the debate between scholars about whether two-year colleges were egalitarian institutions or diversion institutions, specifically, whether two-year colleges and their relationships with other higher education institutions provided Iowa students with more educational opportunities and the path to a baccalaureate degree. I concluded that the presence of Iowa’s two-year colleges pressured private college officials to respond in ways that increased educational opportunity, and officials from Iowa’s three public universities to respond in ways that helped two-year colleges secure a stronger position in the higher education system hierarchy, which strengthened the ability of two-year colleges to provide a path to a baccalaureate degree.


community college, curricular tension, educational opportunity, higher education, liberal arts education, vocational education


ix, 220 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 210-216).


Copyright © 2019 Mark Loren Hopkins