Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies

First Advisor

C. Spencer Platt


According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), women are out earning men in the numbers of associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees awarded. When separated by race, Black women are the largest proportionally, representing 64 percent of bachelor’s degrees among Black women and men. Moreover, Black women account for 15 percent of all master’s degrees and 10 percent of earned doctoral degrees among all women. Given the most recent NCES statistics, the student body of degree granting institutions includes a significant number of Black women students. Conversely, about 9 percent of all college presidents and 3 percent of full-time faculty are Black women. Black women presidents generally lead Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and community colleges. Despite some representation, Black women are notably absent en masse within the highest ranks of academic leadership. Having Black women in these roles are important for career advancement, along with representation of thought and diverse perspectives within academic spaces. Concerns that will be explored within this study are sexism, racism, and perceptions of self. Using Critical Race Theory (CRT), Intersectionality, and Black Feminist Thought (BFT), the research will concern itself with how intersection permeates through diversity in higher education leadership, specifically, the college presidency. The purpose of this qualitative study is to provide empirical data representative of current or former Black women who are four-year university presidents. The intellectual goal of this study is to explore how intersectionality extends throughout the walls of the ivory tower, and Black women presidents’ challenges, strategies, and approaches to leadership. This study, phenomenological in nature will rely primarily on interviews, self- reporting, and analysis.


© 2022, Rushondra Janeé James