Ascension to the American college presidency: A study of female presidents of public universities and community colleges in select Southern states

Tracey B Carter, Tennessee State University

Abstract

Male-dominated presidential profiles are evident in all 16 member states of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), including in the select states of Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky. This unique study presents the low number of women presidents currently presiding over public community colleges and four-year public institutions within each SREB member state. Utilizing a qualitative research design, 13 women college presidents from the three select states were interviewed to determine their pathways to the presidency as well as the personal and professional factors that contributed to their successful ascension to the presidency. The findings indicate the premier career pathway to becoming a college/university president continues to be the traditional academic route. Most participants held the title of Chief Academic Officer/Provost immediately prior to their appointment as president. The findings also indicate the most common personal factors contributing to the participants' successful ascension to the presidency were people orientation and respect for others, education through attainment of a doctorate as well as professional development activities such as the ACE Fellows Program, and persistence/determination/hard work. This study found the most common professional factors contributing to the participants' success were academic preparation/education, job experiences and opportunities, and professional networks. These findings are consistent with prior research studies on female college presidents' successful ascension to the presidency. Search committees, aspiring women presidents, and other interested higher education constituents should examine this study's findings in order to develop effective ways to close higher education's executive leadership gap as well as diversify today's presidential leadership. ^

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Education, Administration|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Tracey B Carter, "Ascension to the American college presidency: A study of female presidents of public universities and community colleges in select Southern states" (2009). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3389299.
http://digitalscholarship.tnstate.edu/dissertations/AAI3389299

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