Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Community College Leadership


The purpose of this study was to explore strategies to enable community colleges to develop and cultivate women for leadership roles through succession planning. According to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the pace of administrative and other key staff retirements exceeds the pace at which these positions are being re-staffed (Shults, 2001). One might question why the purposeful development of future community college leaders is critical. Community colleges currently face a crucial leadership crisis in the United States. Pending retirements and the lack of succession planning to fill upcoming vacancies is reaching a critical turning point. The Chronicle of Higher Education (Leubsdorf, 2006) projects an administrative turnover exceeding 50% in the next decade.

This mixed-methods approach sought to identify strategies to enable community colleges to develop and cultivate women currently employed in middle-level administrative positions (e.g., Directors, Coordinators, Specialists) for advancement into senior leadership roles (i.e., Chief Executive Officers [CEOs]; Chief Academic Officers [CAOs]; Chief Student Services Officers [CSSOs]; and Chief Financial Officers [CFOs]) through succession planning. The study focused on cultivating women for leadership roles in rural community colleges, which often encounter distinct challenges attracting and retaining talented administrators. Challenges include geographic isolation and funding inequities in rural communities, as well as lack of resources within the rural community college system to train and develop professionals for future leadership roles.

The study also addressed implications of shared governance on succession planning. The study concluded that succession planning can be used as a tool to articulate institutional sustainability by which community colleges can systemically and deliberately cultivate future leaders. Hiring practices and employment procedures do not have to change. Over time the effect of succession planning might reveal larger pools of well qualified and diverse applicants for senior-level administrative positions in community colleges.