Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Community College Leadership


All eyes are on community and technical colleges as they lead the way through challenging economic times and provide educational opportunities to those in the communities they serve. Regulatory pressures, dwindling resources, calls for improved student outcomes and academic quality, and competition from for-profit institutions speak to the need for high-performing community college boards. Boards must wield their power and goodwill to do everything possible to enhance their ability to shape the institution‘s strategic directions as a collective whole that performs harmoniously. Trustees are obligated to represent both the community‘s interest and the welfare of the institution. Being well prepared to engage in debate, dialogue, and discourse regarding the direction of the community college is essential for the institution‘s long-term success. Little is known about how trustees perceive their roles and responsibilities, and how they learn to be effective trustees.

The purpose of this study was to identify the adequacy and availability of professional development activities that assist 2-year postsecondary trustees in becoming more effective contributors when shaping higher education policy decisions. This qualitative case study was situated in an interpretive paradigm. Eight community and technical colleges‘ trustees described their roles and responsibilities, how they influenced policy, and the professional development assistance they received.

Findings indicate an ambiguity in response that reflects multiple points of view about trustees‘ primary roles and responsibilities. Various parts of trustees‘ duties were mentioned, but not succinctly, which raises questions about trustees‘ roles and vi responsibilities. The participants affirmed they do set policy, but could not explain or describe how and in what ways this policy is accomplished. All of the participants agreed they did not receive adequate preparation to assume their role as trustee. To be most effective, regularly scheduled professional development activities (e.g., held three to four times a year) are needed to deliver content using adult learning principles. Topics should include pertinent information regarding the college, the role and responsibility of trustees, and a continuous focus on group dynamics to enhance the working potential of the board. Without the opportunity to learn the craft of their position, community college trustees are at a disadvantage.


Revised by author, August 2011