Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 12-12-2022


Due to the marginalized status of the population they serve, collegiate recovery programs are generally underfunded and employ one staff member who typically holds other job tasks in addition to those of collegiate recovery leader. The consequence of the varied nature by which collegiate recovery programs are founded and implemented is inconsistency, which can threaten the longevity of the field. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to elicit information directly from collegiate recovery leaders to gain a deeper understanding of their lived experience, in order to determine how to best serve and support higher education students in recovery from substance use disorder. The joint narrative of the participants highlighted four major themes: motivation for work, meaning through student success, inclusion as a value, and institutional support as a challenge. Servant leadership provided the theoretical framework for the study and traits were found to be present in the descriptions of the participants’ characteristics and behaviors. The goal of this research was for the data to be utilized in creating collegiate recovery leadership standards, policies, and protocols that would provide the consistency necessary for long-term collegiate recovery programming success and sustainability. The findings of the study emphasized a need for leadership training for collegiate recovery leaders, to include exploration of leadership theories and skill acquisition for navigating higher education. Recommended topics for future research included: the reluctance of higher education administrators to endorse collegiate recovery programming; how diversity, equity, and inclusion can be applied to collegiate recovery; and, theories of leadership, including servant leadership, as they intersect with collegiate recovery.


collegiate recovery leadership, collegiate recovery, servant leadership, addiction, substance use disorder, higher education, phenomenology

Document Type




Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Allison M. Borden

Second Committee Member

Dr. Arlie Woodrum

Third Committee Member

Dr. Frank Perrone

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Scott Hughes