Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Social Welfare


Mimi Abramovitz

Committee Members

Michelle Billies

Tamara Buckley

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Welfare


managerialism, neoliberalism, college faculty, women faculty, critical race feminism, street level bureaucracy


Part of the Neoliberal drive is to privatize the structure and operation of public and private organizations and institutions. Managerialism has shaped higher education since the mid to late 1970s through a focus on productivity, efficiency, accountability, and standardization. Workers employed in social service organizations and universities have employed strategies for managing organizations based on the neoliberal business philosophy for the last 40 years. This research examines the impact of managerialism in higher education through the experience of faculty teaching in creative arts therapy master’s professional programs. During 2021, twenty-three faculty of color and white faculty who identified as women or queer participated in semi-structured interviews focusing on their experiences in higher education. Results support findings found in other studies of the managerialist university, such as increased productivity expectations through admissions, class sizes, and the number of classes taught; extensive use of efficiency measures associated with online and three-year educational delivery models; increased focus on accountability focusing on evaluation and monitoring; and the greater standardization of programs through accreditation and licensure bodies. A notable focus of this study was the negative impact of gatekeeping or screening students in the admission process and throughout their time in programs that ultimately influences who becomes the next generation of creative arts therapists.

Respondents working in these managerialist settings reported feeling overwhelmed. This was especially so for faculty of color working in white systems within a historically white theoretical framework. Respondents also reported interactions between managerialism, racism, and sexism through biased and flawed evaluations and disproportionate amounts of service demand on women faculty. Women-identified faculty of color faced the additional burden of impression management. Unreported in other studies, faculty from art departments or schools reported providing additional informal mentorship for minoritized students outside of their department as they are seen as more welcoming than faculty from other university departments. Various strategies named as useful included setting boundaries and engaging in community, both within and outside of the academy to counter isolation and siloing. Unique to this research, respondents identified artmaking and engaging in creative outlets as a coping strategy. A tool inherent for creative arts therapists, creativity may be useful for faculty in other fields within managerialist universities. Findings from this research have implications for future creative arts therapy programs, other related programs, as well as currently engaged faculty.

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