higher education leadership, college presidential candidates


This qualitative study examined a sample of former chief student affairs officers (n=12) who successfully attained a presidency at a four-year institution of higher education. Data was collected primarily through semi-structured interviews and supplemented by the curricula vitae of the participants. Through data analysis, three themes emerged: (1) institutional type and fit, (2) academic profile, and (3) fundraising. Findings from this study indicated the majority of participants were employed at small to medium-size institutions of higher education with preference given to small, private colleges and universities. Faculty skepticism was the most noted obstacle participants encountered. Accordingly, participants advised presidential aspirants to actively maintain an academic profile and credibility with the faculty. Last, fundraising experience was considered a necessary skill that presidential aspirants should have to become serious contenders for a presidential position.