Degree Date

Spring 4-2013

Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Community College Leadership


The purpose of this qualitative case study is to explore challenges experienced and successful strategies employed by African American women currently serving as community college presidents. Studies show 35% of community college presidents are expected to retire by the year 2015 (Schultz, 2001), thus opening opportunities for aspiring African American women to secure a community college presidency. However, some of the literature reviewed for this study suggests that if efforts are not made to support the upward mobility of these women, there is a possibility that the number of African American women who are able to secure a future presidency could decrease (Lane, 2004).

This qualitative case study searches for insights from four African American women who served as community college presidents in order to gain an understanding of their perspectives concerning career challenges endured and strategies used to achieve their career goals. These individuals were purposefully selected as participants because their race, gender, and current professional position qualified them to provide important insights into the phenomenon of interest. Three methods of data collection were used in this study: (a) demographic questionnaire, (b) semi-structured interview questions, and (c) field notes.

Using both Critical Race and Black Feminist theories as a basis of analysis, the findings of this study suggest that many of the challenges some African American women experience during their journeys towards a community college presidency are more closely associated with gender as opposed to race. Nonetheless, the study suggests that these challenges have limited the career opportunities for some African American women and contributed to the small increase in their numbers as community college presidents. However, learning from the successes of current female African American community college presidents may encourage other African American women to not only pursue a community college presidency, but also obtain the position and experience success during their presidency.