Attributes of an Effective Community College President

Date of Conferral







Dr. Kurt Schoch


Community colleges face challenges with the high rate of retirement of community college presidents and the need to replace them with qualified leaders. Although leadership research has identified a number of desirable attributes of community college presidents, there is little research on the attributes sought by both faculty leaders and board members in an effective community college presidential applicant. This exploratory qualitative study sought to fill that gap. Its additional purpose was to examine how these two groups make a decision when differences occur. Attribute theory served as the conceptual framework that guided the study. Seven faculty leaders and 3 board members responded to questionnaires and participated in interviews on the attributes they deemed most important. Data were analyzed by using open and axial coding. Findings revealed that faculty and board members agreed on these key attributes of a community college president: communication skills, decision-making skills, honesty, problem solving skills, and vision. However, faculty discussed them from the perspective of what happens inside the institution, while board members discussed them from the perspective of what happens outside the institution. Applicants and committee members need to be aware of the importance of serving internal and external constituents. Both faculty and board members indicated using a democratic, collegial method to come to agreement when differences occurred. Social change implications include enhanced satisfaction and retention of community college presidents and thus better stability and performance of their institutions.

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