Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Committee Member

Patricia First, J.D., Ed.D., Committee Chair

Committee Member

Tony Cawthon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Anthony Normore, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James Satterfield, Ph.D.


This examination of the ethical decision-making employed by a group of fraternity men utilized a case study approach to illustrate the processes by which the men reached decisions and the impact of influences upon their decisions. The information gained was examined through the conceptual framework of Bertram Gallant and Kalichman’s (2011) systems approach by which the behaviors of university actors are considered through four nested layers of influence. Fraternity men were studied at a small, liberal arts university in the southeastern United States. Through a process of interviews with the men, their chapter advisors, and applicable university staff, the researcher sought to better understand the ethical frameworks that the men used. The interview responses provided by participants were further considered in the context of documentary evidence by way of instructions from the institution and fraternities, and observational data gleaned from the campus and relevant social media. The investigation noted that while the fraternities and university espoused lofty and important ethical goals, that those expectations were not always, or even often, lived in daily practice. There was evidence of a lack of congruence amongst the decisions of the men and the perspectives of both their fraternity leadership and the university. This lack of congruence was relevant when implications for further research and practice were developed. Due to the single-case design of this study, implications are recognized to be inherently limited. They are, however, a starting point for future consideration. As such, the author encourages further exploration of the guidance provided to students regarding their ethical decision-making and to practitioners in how they effectively provide guidance that is both applied and in congruence with broader university statements, policies, and practice. Through continued work, it is hoped that researchers and practitioners may enhance and improve students’ ethical decision-making.