Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Community College Leadership


Change is typically initiated to improve efficiency and effectiveness or when a new vision is created. Facilitating change within an organization is difficult, particularly when a new leader is appointed. Newly appointed community college presidents almost always reengineer senior administrative leadership upon arriving at their new institutions. What is needed is a change management process that facilitates change while minimizing disruption to the operations, and eases fears among those impacted by the changes. In addition, assessing the effectiveness of the changes is paramount in determining if further modifications are necessary. The purpose of this study was to explore what precipitates reengineering of administrative structures by presidents new to their positions at community colleges, the processes used in implementing change, and assessment of the reengineering process.

This qualitative study utilized the case study methodology that included personal interviews of six newly appointed community college presidents from across the United States. These presidents were from large and small/medium community colleges, as defined by student full time equivalency, varying geographic areas (urban, suburban, rural), and had previous experience as community college presidents. Multiple data sources, including interviews, documents, and demographic surveys were used to gathered information and insights. The conceptual framework for analyzing data included theories that describe evolutionary versus revolutionary change, Kotter’s (1996) eight-step change process which is considered the seminal research on how change is best facilitated, and heuristics as a means of defining if previous experience as community college presidents influenced restructuring decisions.

The findings revealed that reengineering of senior administration commenced and was completed during the first year of a new community college presidency. Five primary triggers or challenges prompted this reengineering: (a) institutional climate;

(b) attrition/retirements; (c) governance concerns; (d) financial issues; and (e) accreditation findings. None of the presidents, utilized Kotter’s (1996) complete eight-step change process, yet their change efforts were considered successful in mitigating institutional challenges.

As a result of the study findings, the six-step Coons Change Management Model was developed to manage ongoing and iterative change, effectively. The model can be applied to modifications of senior administrative structures in community colleges by newly appointed presidents. The steps within the Coons Change Management Model can also be utilized to facilitate academic changes, as well as other operational changes within organizations.