Document Type



Doctor of Education


Educational Practice

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Shawn Woodhouse


Christiane Hubbard Jackson

Jennifer Simms


Student affairs professionals provide vital services to college students while also facing various challenges that impact their ability to thrive at work. This study examined overall thriving, its constructs and a set of predictors that impact thriving in student affairs professionals. Seligman’s (PERMA) theory of thriving provided the conceptual foundation for this study. Understanding the constructs that support thriving for student affairs professionals will help institutional leaders and professional organizations develop work environments and strategies that promote thriving. A global pandemic occurred during the time of this research, allowing exploration of how COVID-19 impacted thriving. This study also included variables of generation and functional areas to explore if there were variations of thriving.

To test the research questions, an existing survey was modified for use in this study’s population. The original source of the survey was the Thriving Project at Azusa Pacific University under the leadership of Dr. Laurie Schreiner. The survey included questions related to PERMA (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment) constructs, along with predictors of thriving (sense of community, spirituality, institutional integrity and commitment to staff welfare). The survey was administered to student affairs professionals at a mid-sized public university in the Midwest. The results supported the conclusion that student affairs professionals at this institution were experiencing a higher level of thriving. Pearson correlation revealed a positive relationship between all the PERMA constructs and overall thriving. A multiple regression revealed three of the four predictors contributed to overall thriving with commitment to staff welfare not having an impact. Results of two one-way ANOVAs revealed there was not a significant relationship of generation or functional area to overall thriving. However, the COVID-19 global pandemic was found to significantly impact thriving.

Overall, the results of this study suggested that student affairs professionals at this public university were thriving and provided ways to further support thriving. This study included recommendations on ways this and other institutions could continue to bolster thriving among student affairs professionals.