Preparation factors common in outstanding community college presidents in the United States
Given the important role of community colleges and the critical role the presidents of these institutions play, it is important that research is conducted that will help clarify what makes some community college presidents effective while others are not, what preparatory factors contribute to development of outstanding leaders, and how leadership can be strengthened through improved preparation of leaders. This study explored nine preparation factors which may contribute to development of outstanding community college leadership skills. Respondents were also divided into five geographic regions and compared to determine if differences existed by location;A survey instrument designed to collect demographic information and data on the respondents' leadership preparation was sent to 975 presidents of public, two-year community colleges in the United States. A survey response rate of 73.64% (718/975) was achieved. A peer rating method was used to divide respondents into two groups: outstanding/leading (96) and normative presidents (622). Those selected as outstanding/leading were predominately male (88.4%), Caucasian (90.5%), and married (92.7%);Nine preparation factors that may contribute to the development of leadership skills appropriate to the community college setting were identified through the review of literature. These factors were: (a) status as a community college insider, (b) earned terminal degree, (c) major within the terminal degree focused on higher education/community college leadership, (d) participation as a protege in a mentor-protege relationship, (e) involvement with a peer network, (f) participation in leadership development activities, (g) preparation as a change agent, (h) personal research and publication agenda, and (i) knowledge of technology;Using chi-square analysis, t-tests and analysis of variance, the outstanding/leading presidents were found to display significant differences from the normative presidents on two of the preparation factors: they demonstrated a higher rate of having published or presented research and a lower rate of having participated in social/business networks. In addition, the outstanding/leading presidents were identified as community college insiders at a higher rate, tended to have higher earned degrees with many focused on higher education/community college leadership, and to utilize a personal computer at a greater frequency than their normative peers. Differences were found among the geographic regions, as well.