Date of Graduation

5-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Higher Education (EdD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders

Advisor

John W. Murry, Jr.

Committee Member

Michael T. Miller

Second Committee Member

Ketevan Mamiseishvili

Abstract

One of the largest challenges facing community colleges in the new millennium is identifying leaders who possess the necessary skills and competencies to successfully navigate the modern presidency. Facing a dynamic shift in the fiscal landscape, community college presidents are tasked with filling the gap between institutional needs and existing forms of financial support. The purpose of this study was to examine community college presidents with former fundraising backgrounds and to explore the impact of prior fundraising experience on their current roles. Because the president plays a pivotal role in the acquisition of alternative funding sources, the effectiveness of this leader is critical to the overall mission of the institution; therefore, it is necessary to understand how their prior experiences in fundraising may impact the ease with which they develop and engage in external relationships with key constituents.

Employing purposive sampling methods, three current community college presidents serving public, single-campus two-year colleges with institutionally affiliated foundations were selected as case study participants. The qualitative research design engaged various methods of data collection with face-to-face semi-structured interviews serving as the primary data source, accompanied by document collection, observational field notes, and reflexive journal entries. In this inquiry, the research questions spanned three broad categories, which served as the framework for coding and analyzing the data. The categories included: (a) impact of full-time fundraising experience; (b) fundraising skills and competencies perceived as valuable to the community college presidency; and (c) advice for aspiring college presidents.

The findings suggested that advancement professionals are well suited for the presidency based on the heightened expectation of fundraising as a means of achieving financial stability and the increasingly external nature of the presidency. The valuable fundraising skills and competencies recommended for today's leaders included personalized communication and the ability to build lasting relationships with a variety of constituents. The study's participants offered advice for future leaders related to organizational leadership and professional preparation based upon their own personal journey to the presidency. The highly transferable skills that presidents with prior fundraising experience bring to the position establish them as qualified and effective candidates for the modern presidency.