Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
J. Beth Mabry, Ph.D.
Alex Heckert, Ph.D.
John A. Anderson, Ph.D.
Michael Schwartz, Ph.D.
As institutions of higher education in America have grown and changed, so too have the role expectations of institutional presidents. In recent years, fewer Chief Academic Officers/provosts aspire to be presidents and more presidents have non-traditional (non-academic) career paths. This study investigates whether faculty and trustee constituents’ perceptions of the leadership effectiveness of presidents differ depending on the presidents’ career path. It also examines whether the self/other perceptual agreement of presidents and their constituents differs based on career path. Finally, it explores president, trustee, and faculty perceptions of how presidents should, and do, spend their time.
A sample of 58 institutional presidents, 80 faculty senate leaders, and 59 trustees completed an online survey based on The Fisher/Tack Effective Leadership Inventory (Fisher, Tack, & Wheeler, 1988) and indicate their perceptions of the amount of time their president should, and does, spend working on key responsibilities. The sample represents 118 institutions and was developed from a list of accredited four-year, public colleges and universities from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System database. In addition to presidential career path, institutional characteristics such as institution type (public or private), operating budget size, amount of foundation assets, institution size (number of students), as well as president gender, race, age, and years in current presidency were also considered.
In this sample there were no significant differences by career path in the perceptions of presidents’ leadership approach effectiveness among trustee or faculty constituents. Further, the study found virtually no difference between presidents’ self-assessments of their leadership approach effectiveness and the perceptions of trustees. Faculty, on the other hand, assessed the effectiveness of presidents’ leadership approach slightly lower than the presidents did. Unexpectedly, the president-faculty gap was smaller for non-traditional career path presidents than for traditional career path presidents. Finally, presidents and trustees tend to view what presidents should do similarly, and they are also close in their assessments of how the presidents spend their time. Faculty differ in four specific areas as to what presidents should and actually do. These patterns of president-trustee similarities and faculty differences occurred regardless of presidential career path.
Hoke, Shawn M., "Do College Presidents Need to be Academics?: Exploring the Relationship Between the Perceived Effectiveness of Institutional Presidents and Their Career Path" (2018). Theses and Dissertations (All). 1592.