Lisa Emery

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Rema Reynolds, PhD

Committee Member

Carmen McCallum, PhD

Committee Member

David Anderson, PhD

Committee Member

Kedra Ishop, PhD


This research considers the need for transformative change in higher education admissions policies and student success initiatives in the wake of significant impending changes in the demographics of the college-going population. The role of the chief enrollment management officer (CEMO) was examined for its potential to shape policies around access and equity within an institution. It is predicted that hundreds of CEMO positions may become available due to high turnover within the next few years, creating an opportunity for more women to step into this executive-level role. In this causal comparative quantitative study, data was collected from 211 current CEMOs to understand the challenges and highlights of the role and provide recommendations for reshaping the role to attract transformative women leaders. Tenets from transformative leadership theory, feminist theories, and labor economics combined to form the theoretical underpinnings for this study. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the relationship between demographic and work-life factors on job satisfaction, morale, and intention to stay, leveraging a framework used in previous studies on mid-level managers in student affairs. The findings suggest that career support, recognition for competence, and favorable working conditions were significantly correlated with higher morale, and morale was a significant predictor of a CEMO’s intention to stay in their current position. Career support was also significantly correlated to job satisfaction for women CEMOs. Findings from this research can help institutions make the CEMO role more attractive to the next generation of diverse transformative leaders who will be responsible for solving complex problems in the changing, highly competitive landscape of higher education.