Purdue University Graduate School
Service Animals In Higher Education-A Legal And Qualitative Exploration On The Impact Of Legislation And Policy (2).pdf (1.14 MB)

Service Animals In Higher Education: A Legal And Qualitative Exploration On The Impact Of Legislation And Policy

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posted on 2023-04-19, 14:35 authored by Ryan G McCombsRyan G McCombs


There is a deficiency in scholarly research on higher education service animal policy that has created definitive gaps in how disability service office (DSO) directors approach policy development and how higher education institutions (HEIs) ensure access for service animal handlers. Through a three-paper model, this dissertation addressed the intersection between federal and state civil rights legislation and the leadership qualities needed in developing higher education service animal policies. The first academic law review paper, titled “Service Animals in the Higher Education Environment: How the Law Guides Institutions in Supporting Disabled Student Handlers” laid a foundation for higher education service animal policy through a review of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which is federal civil rights legislation that grants protections and access for students with disabilities using service animals in higher education. The second academic law review paper, titled “State Legislation Regarding Service Animals: Informing Big Ten Higher Education Disability Policy” provided a comprehensive overview of six Midwest state’s service animal legislation and the legal application to higher education policy. The third paper is a qualitative research study, titled “A Big Ten Leadership Approach to Service Animal Policy Development in Higher Education” that explored how Big Ten Academic Alliance HEI DSO directors lead when developing institutional policy related to service animals.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Educational Studies

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Christine Rienstra-Kiracofe

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Lisa Lambert-Snodgrass

Additional Committee Member 2

F. Richard Olenchak

Additional Committee Member 3

LaMonica Clemons-Williams