Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department



Williams, Frankie K

Committee Member

Blackbourn , Richard

Committee Member

Havice , Pam

Committee Member

Bailey , Bea


Of the 3,300 university and college presidents in higher education in the United States, only 23% are held by females (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2007). The percentage of female students in most institutions in higher education is higher than those of male students.
The Central questions that guided this research study are as follows: What are the roles and responsibilities of presidents of higher educational institutions? How do presidents of higher education celebrate their professional and personal accomplishments? Additionally, what are the post-presidency aspirations of the eight women interviewed who all currently are in their first presidency position in either a private or public four-year institution?
Qualitative research methods were used for this study. The collective case study tradition (Creswell, 2003) was used in order to capture thick, rich descriptions of the cases. Eight female college presidents in their first presidency participated in the study. Interviews, documents, and observations were collected and included in the data analysis.
Within-case analyses were conducted for each participant, followed by a cross-analysis, with major themes emerging. While feminist leadership theories and culture theory were used as a lens and guided the current research, themes emerged from the study that may assist future women as they pursue presidencies in the future.
Nine conclusions are presented that relate to the themes that emerged for each secondary research question. The nine conclusions were determined based on the research findings. The conclusions relate to the areas of interest for women in presidencies and/or seeking a presidency which are summarized as follows: (1) Becoming the Institution; (2) Understanding the Financial Complexities; (3) Involvement in Community, State, Regional, National Associations; (4) Family and Personal Responsibilities; (5) Professional Sacrifices; (6) Family and Personal Sacrifices; (7) Celebrations of Accomplishments; (8) Post-Presidency Aspirations; (9) Strategies for Post-Presidency Plans.
Recommendations for females who aspire to become a president are detailed. Suggestions for future research are presented.



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