Date of Award

Spring 3-12-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Martin Finkelstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Reid, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sherri-Ann P. Butterfield, Ph.D.


Sexual Harassment, Faculty Behavior, Misconduct, Title IX


Faculty behavior inside and outside the classroom is one of the many concerns faced by higher education administrators. Inappropriate comments, behavior, or acts engaged in by faculty members have resulted in sexual harassment complaints being filed by students, and in some cases resulted in costly litigation and settlements for some colleges and universities. In the recent news, public figures like actor Bill Cosby and Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein have been openly accused of sexual harassment and/or rape. High publicity matters like these presumably have an influence on awareness of the issue of sexual harassment.

The purpose of this study was to gather information on faculty reactions to the recent heightened publicity regarding sexual harassment. Has the recent publicity regarding sexual harassment negatively influenced how faculty interact with students? The study set out to determine the extent to which the recent publicity may have heightened faculty awareness, the extent of such faculty awareness, and the extent to which such awareness has increased faculty apprehension and/or worry and translated into behavioral caution in and outside the classroom. The study examined how faculty responses vary based on age, gender, race, professional status, departmental affiliation, and institutional publicity.

To address the research questions, a quantitative design was employed. An anonymous survey was utilized to gather information from a purposeful sample of approximately 1,645 faculty members resulting in 72 study participants. The sample consisted of tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenured faculty members at four-year institutions in the United States who belong to and/or are affiliated with four targeted disciplines: history, political science, psychology and sociology. These four disciplines were targeted because of the likelihood that these faculty members would discuss controversial and/or inflammatory material related to gender during their lectures. The sample was derived from institutions that both have and have not been in the news during the last two years for allegations of sexual harassment of a student by a faculty member. The survey instrument consisted of open-ended questions, closed-ended questions, and Likert-scaled questions. The survey questions addressed the following four major constructs: awareness, apprehension, caution, and worry. Specifically, the questions were designed to address the constructs and utilized to determine the faculty member’s level of awareness, apprehension, caution, and worry inside and outside of the classroom. These four constructs were rooted in the Lazarsfeld and Thielens (1958) study informally known as the “Teacher Apprehension Study” in which they examined the effects of McCarthyism on academia.

The study found information to support the hypothesized linkage between the recent publicity and faculty perceptions and behaviors. Most fundamentally, the study revealed that the recent publicity regarding sexual harassment has had an influence on faculty awareness of the issue. The study further revealed that a relationship exists between faculty awareness and the level of faculty apprehension, the level of faculty caution, and the level of faculty worry. The study also revealed that faculty awareness, faculty apprehension, faculty caution, and faculty worry can be influenced by faculty member’s age, gender, race, departmental affiliation, and professional status (tenured, tenure-track, non-tenured).