Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Research and Administration

Committee Chair

Richard Mohn

Committee Chair Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 2

Aubrey Lucas

Committee Member 3

Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 4

David Lee

Committee Member 4 Department

Educational Research and Administration


Published in 2005, the American Association of Community Colleges developed a list of six leadership competencies deemed by stakeholders as essential to a community college leadership position. The six AACC leadership competencies include organizational strategy, resource management, communication, collaboration, community college advocacy, and professionalism, and they have been well researched with upper-level community college leadership, student services personnel, and boards of trustees. This research examined these competencies as they relate to the community college department chairperson.

Often viewed as a path to upper level leadership, the community college chairperson is both a faculty member and administrator, and chairpersons must represent their department or division to both internal constituents (students, other departments, administrators) and external constituents (communities, legislative groups). In addition, faculty members becoming chairpersons learn the position in several recurring ways: graduate programs, in-house leadership programs, on-the-job training, learning from others in a similar position, previous/progressive responsibilities, formal professional development opportunities, challenging job assignments, and mentoring relationships. .

The researcher was interested in determining if there were differences in the importance rating of each competency between community college chairpersons and upper level leadership within the community college institution. In addition, the researcher questioned if new chairpersons had similar opinions about the competencies as veteran chairpersons. The researcher also sought to determine if any formal or non-formal experiences allowed the chairperson opportunities to develop the six AACC leadership competencies.

Department chairpersons and upper level administrators at all fifteen community colleges in Mississippi (n = 115) were invited to participate in this research by completing a Qualtrics administered survey to assess the importance rating of each competency as evidenced by six different questions per competency. Additionally, respondents were asked if they were trained on each competency, and, if they were trained, to identify the methods utilized in the training.

It was determined that no differences existed between the importance rating of each competency by department chairpersons or upper level administrators. There was also no difference in the importance rating of each competency by new chairpersons and veteran chairpersons, and chairpersons most often learned about the competencies by on-the-job training or by learning from a colleague in a similar position.