Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Learning, Leadership and Change

First Advisor

Delores E. McNair

First Committee Member

Rod P. Githens

Second Committee Member

Brett Taylor


Undergraduate student leaders express increasing stress levels, often leaving them unprepared to lead in a complex world of challenge and change. While higher education heavily invests in preparing graduates to think critically and lead successfully, research shows an increasing number of students display low-stress resiliency and risk-aversion while struggling to cope with challenge and failure pre-and post-graduation. This study, conducted at faith-based Christian universities during the COVID-19 pandemic, used grounded theory to generate a generalizable leadership stress resilience model that explains: (a) Why and how undergraduate student leaders experience stress; (b)The influence of stress on student leaders at faith-based institutions; (c)The various processes and strategies student leaders employ to resolve their main concerns regarding the impact and consequences of stress; and (d) The role faith plays, if any, in how student leaders cope with stress. This study informs student leadership development for higher education professionals in the critical area of stress resilience and reveals insights into the formative role faith has on leaders, particularly the influence of faith on leadership stress coping. Three meta-themes of student leader expectations, processing student leadership stress, and the role personal authentic faith played in developing stress resilience versus an obligatory faith that compounded stress emerged. The leadership stress resilience model assists in mapping and forecasting stress to better understand the convergence and compounding effects of stress. While existing scholarship covers leadership development and leadership stress, little was previously known about the influence of stress on student leaders at faith-based institutions.





Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).