Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Jeffrey Sun


This qualitative study examined the journey of six higher education faculty

members who encountered a state of professional disillusionment in their careers but later

moved to a professional sense of vitality in the professoriate. Building on the extant

literature, this study investigated this phenomenon of moving from professional

disillusionment to vitality in the professoriate through the lenses of life course, agency,

and job satisfaction. These components provided the structure for the study’s conceptual

framework. Employing interpretative phenomenological analysis based on semistructured

interviews, the study traced the journey of these professors to understand how

the key encounters of their lived experiences represented aspects of the professional

disillusionment as well as the structures and strategies that accounted for their movement

into a state of vitality. The findings reveal that the participants underwent this

phenomenon in developmental stages. To progress from a state of professional

disillusionment to a professional sense of vitality, higher education faculty members must

overcome cognitive dissonance, solicit multiple levels of support, and experience selfreflection.

Three major policy implications stem from this study: revamping doctorate

programs, introducing more professional development opportunities for faculty members,

and calling for different organizations and associations to take active roles in the

development of future and current faculty members.