Call and response: A basic interpretive inquiry of the call to leadership of church-affiliated historically Black college and university presidents

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2022-05
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Shamburger, Kenyatta N.
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Reason, Robert D
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Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have had a solid and rich legacy of providing Black students educational opportunities since the late 19th century. Having a distinct educational history, HBCUs have a historical purpose linked to providing an educational experience to Black students during an era when higher education opportunities were virtually non-existent for Black students who wished to pursue their academic goals. In the process of understanding the critical role that HBCUs play in American higher education and the broader society, it is equally essential to explore and make meaning of the leadership and management styles of those who lead these institutions. In considering challenges that HBCU presidents face, there is an opportunity to inquire further how HBCU presidents leading church-affiliated institutions think about leadership as a vocation and a higher calling. This qualitative research study aimed to make meaning of the metaphoric call to leadership, that is, at times, proclaimed by HBCU presidents. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 presidents from HBCUs with an institutional vision undergirded by an affiliation with a church denomination to describe their understanding of their spiritual growth and development. The research explored how this development has impacted their life experiences and led them to their current locus of influence as positional leaders. This data allowed me to explore the intersections of their spiritual and leadership practices. An examination of the existing literature, data collection and analysis, and a report of the findings helped me more deeply explore the relationship between spiritual development and these presidents' transformative leadership behaviors. A derivate of the research was an opportunity to highlight any campus spiritual or leadership development activities actively supported by the participating presidents on their respective campuses.
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