Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Community College Leadership


In community colleges across the country, the division of academic affairs faces many challenges. Chief academic affairs officers (CAAOs) and academic-leadership teams need to effectively lead the division. Academic deans support the division of academic affairs, and the CAAO provides guidance and resources, and empower individuals in these roles to be effective. The purpose of this study was to identify factors associated with the formation of an effective academic-leadership team in selected Illinois community colleges.

This qualitative study applied case-study methodology. Eight Illinois community colleges were selected using the Illinois Community College Board’s seven peer groups. Purposeful sampling, in conjunction with maximum variation criteria, was employed. Maximum variation criteria were based on different levels of administrative positions in Illinois community colleges, full-time student enrollment, and geographic disparity of Illinois community colleges. Surveys and face-to-face interviews were conducted to collect rich and meaningful data. The conceptual framework consisted of Hawkins’s team-coaching concept and Zachary’s mentorship theory. Adult-learning theory, developed by Knowles (1984), offered another lens through which the research was examined.

Data analysis revealed that members of academic teams embrace concepts of mentorship. Factors identified influencing the success of an academic-leadership team included a shared vision by the team and CAAO, open and honest dialog among team members and the CAAO, and having an approachable CAAO. Team members felt the CAAO’s guidance of the team was enhanced by not only working with individual team members, but also by investing time and energy with the group as a unit or “the whole.”

Findings also revealed that professional-development programs and mentorship opportunities at Illinois community colleges for academic deans are largely informal. Dean participants acknowledged a need for the establishment of formal mentorship programs to enhance their institutional effectiveness and career growth. Participants agreed these avenues for professional development and mentorship must be consistent and systematic to be successful.

As a result of the findings, a model was designed to implement effective mentorship when forming teams, which can be applicable in many different team settings. The Fronczek six-step mentorship model is a specific guide for formal mentorship practices that produces set expectations.