Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Ronald Flowers

Committee Member

James Barott

Committee Member

David Anderson,

Committee Member

Robert Orrange


The purpose of the study was to understand the institutional forces that constructed and shaped the function, nature of funding, and governance of Washtenaw Community College (WCC). To do this, I studied the founding and development of WCC using organizational theory. This qualitative, historical case study used archival research to identify themes and the institutional building blocks for the junior college movement at large and the transition of the junior college to the comprehensive community college in the 1950s and 1960s as it served to buffer and bridge the post-secondary world. This study discovered that WCC was not a grassroots endeavor by the community with an interest to create opportunities for the county residents. Instead, WCC was created and developed by agent-based construction or through intentionality and purpose by county leaders who used regulative and normative means to create a narrative that a “community” college would best serve the interests of the public. As WCC was created with both vocational training and transfer programming, balancing those functions, funding, and governance further defined the institution and its role in the community. These findings can help educational leaders understand the historical underpinnings of the community college and its relationship to other educational institutions and the community it is designed to serve.