Spousal support for educational leaders

Marsha Ann Kahler Kerr, Tennessee State University


This study explored the affect of the marriage partnership upon the leadership of the university president. The idea for the inquiry evolved from an observation of a leader who faces similar challenges to those of the university president, the minister of a large church. It was observed that the efficacy of the minister's leadership was enhanced by a strong marriage partnership. The purpose of this study was to analyze the dynamics of the marital relationships of university presidents. Three aspects of the marriage partnership were the focus of the study: (a) There are identifiable characteristics of a marriage partnership that contribute to the success of the president's team, (b) The marriage partnership impacts the university presidency, and (c) The degree of faith that exists in the marriage partnership. The significance of this research was to investigate the president and spouse's relationship. The research questions for this study were: (1) How does spousal support affect productivity within the president's office? (2) Are there leadership styles that are more effective in president/spousal relationship? (3) Do marriages with a strong faith/spiritual background make the college presidency more effective? The study was limited to presently married spouses and university presidents of four-year, private, independent religious universities throughout the United States. This list was drawn from the one hundred and twenty-three member institutions of the 2000–2001 edition of the Directory of Chief Executive Officers of United Methodist-Related Schools, Colleges, Universities, and Theological Schools. The research population was examined through four areas of the marital relationship: spirituality, planning, communication, and role identification. Duke University Religious Index (DUREL) was used to examine the spiritual influence. Survey results identified characteristics that contribute to the success of the marriage partnerships were love, trust, respect, shared values, commitment, humor and communication, goals, faith, and time together. According to the presidents' responses, 87.2% of the presidents were still in their first marriage. Seventy-three percent of the presidents indicated that they had been in their current leadership post for over six years. These indicators point to stable educational leaders in both their private and professional lives.

Subject Area

School administration|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Marsha Ann Kahler Kerr, "Spousal support for educational leaders" (2001). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3024625.