Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Community College Leadership


A leadership crisis is pending at America’s community colleges. Presidents are serving shorter terms (Stanley & Betts, 2004) and retiring rapidly (Duree, Ebbers, Santos-Laanan, Curtis, & Ferlazzo, 2008). Weisman and Vaughan (2006) project that 84% of current community college leaders will retire by 2016. New chief executives need to be effective at implementing the goals set by the board of trustees in a timely manner. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to identify stakeholder perceptions during a community college presidential transition and strategies for assisting in a smooth transition.

In-person semi-structured interviews were conducted at three medium-sized Midwestern community colleges that were in the midst of a presidential transition. The stakeholders interviewed included one administrator, one faculty member and one staff member from each participating institution. Coding and theme identification assistance was provided by the use of nVivo 8 qualitative research data analysis software. From the data analysis four themes emerged. A priori themes included (a) leaders view organizations in frames, (b) communication of the college’s goals, and (c) stakeholder relationship development. One emergent theme was identified: positive bias towards the new president.

Implications for research yielded the Bradford Transition Model for Community College Presidential Transitions for community college presidential transitions. This model provides clarity to the employee-based aspect of presidential transitions by visualizing the relationships between organizational culture, four emergent frames, and the inclusive stakeholder relationships. Recommendations for the improvement of community college presidential transitions were provided for both the new president and the institution collectively.