Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Lisa Saye


Academic administrators at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are faced with multiple challenges regarding retention of students, funding, and maintaining status as an HBCU, yet little is understood about how and why leaders choose a particular career pathway. This lack of understanding creates opportunities for failure related to turnover in leadership, funding discrepancies, and lower rates of retention and persistence for students. Using Maslow's needs theory as the foundation, the purpose of this descriptive study was to better understand the career pathways of established executive level leaders atin HBCUs in order to determine attributes of success among leaders with the rank of provost and higher. Data were collected using open-ended surveys from 30 HBCU executives at the rank of provost or higher. These data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, inductive coding, and thematic analysis. Findings indicated that academic administrators tend to move between private and public institutions frequently, and over 20 percent began an academic career as a faculty member at an institution of higher education. The other key finding is that executives tend to plot a path to higher level, executive positions and this transition occurs over a period of several years and t and that those who maintain a focus on achieving executive status also participate in a variety of seminars and workshops to build peripheral skill in communication, financial management, and collaboration. The social change implications stemming from this study include recommendations to HBCUs to engage in leadership training opportunities for faculty and academic managers to encourage internal promotion of executive positions as a mechanism to preserve the unique organizational attributes of HBCUs.