Community College Leaders’ Experiences in Adapting to Changing Student
Originally Published In
Abstract The demographics of community colleges are rapidly changing. The culture composition of the student population in community colleges has expanded, and includes larger percentages of African Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans than are found in other higher education institutions. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine the lived experiences of 10 community college leaders, consisting of 4 administrators, 5 faculty members, and 1 faculty/administrator, in their attempt to adapt to the changing demographics of the student population. Multicultural lens, the conceptual framework for the study, helped guide leaders in assessing their levels of multicultural sensitivity and competence in relation to the culturally diverse student population. Data were collected through face-to-face interviews; these data were then sorted, coded, and analyzed for central themes. The emergent themes—factors in leaders adapting to the changing student demographics―included leaders’ educational, personal, work, and leadership experiences. The leaders’ lived experiences contributed to them identifying with and understanding the various educational, family, financial, and cultural challenges these students encounter. The results of the study might help administrators, faculty, staff, and trustee boards continue valuing and promoting an environment of inclusion by improving the policies and practices related to student diversity and student success.