Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Helen Ditzhazy, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

William Shelton, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Dr. Jaclynn Tracy, Ph.D.


The purpose of this study was to explore and examine the phenomenon of the small pool of qualified and interested candidates to replace retiring community college presidents and senior level officers and to learn if or how organizational changes and leadership during the growth and expansion of the community college system have impacted or contributed to this phenomenon.

The unit of analysis for the study was a public community college in Southeastern Michigan (the pseudonym of SMCC was assigned). SMCC provided the environmental setting for the researcher to observe, record, and interact with the system being examined. SMCC was used as a vehicle to better understand how or why the phenomenon, a shortage of qualified presidential candidates, may have occurred over time in relation to organizational characteristics, leadership, and environmental factors.

The data sources for the proposed study were documents, archival records, and interviews with community college leaders. A conceptual framework based on Deegan and Tillery’s (1985) historical framework on the four generations of community colleges provided a lens for understanding the development of community colleges as institutions as well as the presidents who have led and currently lead them. The concepts embedded in Cain’s (1999) systems approach to understanding community colleges and the organizational change theories of Fullan (1993, 1999, 2001) also contributed to the development of the conceptual framework.

This study explored the growth and changes of the role of the community college president in tandem with the perceptions of the role held by potential applicants for the job. Further, this study examined the organizational and structural changes that are unique to the community college and how those changes may have resulted in the current shortage of prepared leaders to replace retiring presidents. It is anticipated that this study will add to the body of community college literature and potentially provide timely and useful insight to avoiding similar shortages in the future.

The qualitative case study method was employed in an effort to investigate “how” or “why” the changing organizational characteristics and presidential roles over time may have impacted the community college’s ability to continually produce an interested and qualified pool of applicants to replace retiring presidents.

This research explored and concluded that there are a number of disconnections between the role expectations of today’s community college president and the professional and personal expectations of potential candidates to fill the upcoming vacancies. These disconnections and their application for practice are outlined in the conclusion chapter of the dissertation document.


Additional committee member: Patrick Melia, Ph.D.