Leadership preparation and career pathways of community college presidents

Schmitz, Gregory
Major Professor
Larry H. Ebbers
Robert J. Barak
Frankie Santos Laanan
Committee Member
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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

The role of community colleges is in a state of change and, at the same time, the need for new leaders is greater than ever before as many seasoned presidents near retirement. To exacerbate the problem, the pool of qualified candidates is reduced by the high number of senior administrators who are also approaching retirement. Past and present community college presidents are represented by a relatively homogenous group, which does not mirror the current gender and ethnic diversity of the students they serve. These leaders travel predominately to the presidency through a single career path---from academic positions. The purpose of this study was to examine, based on the individual's academic or non-academic career path, how the presidents perceived the importance of the leadership skills as identified in the American Association of Community Colleges' (AACC) Competencies for Community College Leaders.;In preparation for this study, a survey was administered to approximately 1,200 presidents. Developed and supported by the AACC, the Competencies for Community College Leaders were used as constructs to frame survey questions posited to community college presidents regarding how they rate the level of importance of the competencies as well as their individual level of preparation prior to assuming their first presidency. Transformational leadership theory, the theoretical models reviewed, and the AACC's guiding principles for the Competencies for Community College Leaders served as the theoretical and conceptual frameworks to inform and direct this study.;The community college presidency has been and will continue to be a popular subject for research. Additional research is needed for those preparing future leaders, including current presidents, boards, and providers of formal and informal leadership development programs, as well as those aspiring to lead community colleges. There is an opportunity for the presidency to reflect the diversity of the constituencies served. Leaders today are entering at a time that will see less enrollment growth but, perhaps, more change than ever before. Tomorrow's leaders must possess those competencies that are both relevant and required to address evolving challenges and opportunities facing community colleges. Successfully addressing these challenges and opportunities is vital to the fulfillment of the mission of community colleges.