A Case Study Exploring the Success of a President at a Public HBCU (Historically Black University)

Terrica Sampson Arnold, Tennessee State University


Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) continue to contribute irrefutable value to higher education. The individuals leading HBCUs for over 180 years have endured many obstacles and setbacks. However, the men and women who assume the role of president commit to continuing the original missions of these institutions. Over the past two decades, the role of the HBCU president has been plagued with financial instability, operational uncertainty, and high turnover rates. While literature is inundated with the hardships of HBCU leadership, it is limited regarding the HBCU’s presidents and their achievements while serving their campuses. The purpose of this case study was to explore the leadership style and tenure of one successful HBCU president. Success was measured by (a) improved and consistent student enrollment, (b) above average retention and graduation rates, (c) increased level of financial support, and (d) efficient fiscal management of the institution (Gallup Inc., 2016). This case study was completed through an examination of one HBCU president who served at two HBCU institutions, consecutively. Historical data spanning a twenty-seven-year period was reviewed and analyzed to identify areas of success. Areas of contention during the presidencies were also noted. Four major themes emerged: (a) political influence at public HBCUs, (b) voice of internal stakeholders, (c) importance of HBCU external stakeholders, and (d) the utilization of the athletic department for recruitment and revenue. It is hoped that this research will contribute to the limited body of literature that highlights the positive attributes of HBCU presidents.

Subject Area

Higher education|Educational evaluation|Educational leadership|Higher Education Administration

Recommended Citation

Terrica Sampson Arnold, "A Case Study Exploring the Success of a President at a Public HBCU (Historically Black University)" (2021). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI28776736.