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Colorado State University Pueblo’s Vice President of Enrollment Management, Communication and Student Affairs Earned Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Leadership

Release Date: December 18, 2020

Haley Sue Robinson

Director of Communications/PIO&

Marketing, Communications, Community Relations

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Colorado State University Pueblo congratulated Vice President of Enrollment Management, Communications, and Student Affairs, Chrissy Holliday as she earned her doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in higher education leadership from Colorado State University’s School of Education. Holliday’s degree was conferred as part of CSU’s virtual ceremony on Friday, Dec. 18, although her dissertation was successfully defended earlier in Fall of 2020.

“Chrissy’s research throughout her entire doctoral program has informed her practice as a professional and the work we do at CSU Pueblo,” said President of CSU Pueblo, Timothy Mottet. “We have benefited from her graduate studies. She is another example of why developing our people is one of the university’s three wildly important goals along with expanding our appeal and enhancing student success,” said Mottet.

Holliday’s dissertation titled, “A Mixed Methods Investigation of the College-Going Experiences of First-Generation College Students” gathered information directly from CSU Pueblo’s students. Holliday explained her choice of dissertation study came from her passion about the importance of college accessibility which correlates to her every day work as an enrollment professional in higher education. Additionally, Holliday shared the topic remains important to her personally as she herself is a first-generation college student.

Holliday explained her intentionality to pursue a Ph.D. rather than another doctoral route so she could pursue an intense research experience and turn her dissertation into three articles for publishing. With a journalism background, Holliday was no stranger to the writing process however balancing a VP role, motherhood, spousal duties, and a pandemic the last year showed her determination to earn the degree.

“I’m very proud of Chrissy for her perseverance throughout her doctoral studies,” said Mottet. “Even while managing through a pandemic, Chrissy remained disciplined and focused on completing her dissertation.”

Holliday explained the struggles of pursuing her Ph.D. during a pandemic. “I began sending my surveys out to our students, right as people were disengaging,” said Holliday. She also shared the difference of her surveying CSU Pueblo students with her role as a student, not as the VP at CSU Pueblo. “The fact that I’m a first-generation college student gave me a connection with our students and many shared that it was cool to see someone in my role still learning,” said Holliday.

Although Holliday currently works in higher education, as a journalism major she never planned to even earn a master’s degree let alone a Ph.D. Holliday claims she fell into higher education because of a public relations opportunity and then never left. She first began work for a university as a grant writer for University of South Carolina Salkehatchie and then moved into enrollment management. Holliday’s current role as a VP at CSU Pueblo led her to pursue a Ph.D. in 2016.

Holliday earned her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications and print media from Campbell University in North Carolina and then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Enrollment Management from Capella University in Minnesota. She joined CSU Pueblo as the director of admissions in 2014 and was in the role for two years before taking on her current position with the university.

Holliday’s area of interest not only analyzed enrollment for first-generation college students but the access to higher education. She mentioned this interest came from her current work with the University Tracks Centers, two of which are at East High School and Pueblo West High School in town. Holliday believes her research will tailor her work and the work of the university in the future based on her findings.

“There is a research perspective called the pragmatic approach, that’s what I am and who I am,” said Holliday. “I want to look at things that impact my students, my job, and look at how this impacts institutions like ours. That was the best learning piece for me.”

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