Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies


College of Education

First Advisor

C. Spencer Platt


Although the career paths of presidents have been documented, the personal considerations an individual makes for choosing these pathways are not articulated. This study sought to uncover the decision-making of sitting presidents and presidential aspirants in their proposition of advanced leadership roles and their personal career choices. Conceptually framed by the Theory of Planned Behavior and Career Construction Theory, this dissertation examined the attitudes, motivations and considerations of select minority female community college presidents and presidential aspirants to understand their pursuit of the community college presidency. Using purposive sampling, semi-structured interviews were used to collect narrative data from both groups of participants; submitted curriculum vitae provided the other dataset. Descriptive statistics portrayed observed attitudes and motivators regarding leadership positions and comparisons examined differences in perceptions among subgroups. Content analysis identified and summarized themes across the interviews. Document analysis compared curriculum vitae for similarities and differences.

Interview responses answered the research questions and revealed the following about attitudes, motives and perceptions of leadership. The attitudes of aspiring presidents and sitting presidents were positive and reflected small differences in qualifications to lead. Both groups were motivated to lead by an intrinsic calling to give back and the perception that their leadership can contribute to the success of future students and positively impact the higher education leadership landscape. The results of the study produced six emergent themes that shaped the attitudes, motivations and perceptions of leadership from the participant groups. Four themes experienced or evidenced by both groups of participants include: attitudes and motivations along the varying academic career paths to the community college presidency, the effects of racial micro-aggressions, engendering an advocacy or activist philosophy, and the barriers of organizational culture and structure. Two other themes emerged, maintaining family/life balance and the importance of mentor networks/professional development, but were more prevalent to the aspiring presidents and president participant groups respectively. The results have implications on leadership development and selection of women leaders in academia as well as areas of future study.


© 2016, Simone Annika Francis Gause