Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Dr. William C. Bosher Jr.


The purpose of this study was to learn how men and women who do not have an initial career goal of becoming a college or university president end up in such a position.The study was to gather information on the internal and external influences on that career path, and how each participant fits within presidential career patterns presented by Wessel (1991).A qualitative case study method was used for this study. The participants were chosen based on their institutions' membership in the Virginia Foundation forIndependent Colleges (VFIC), thus all participants were from private institutions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Twelve of the 15 VFIC presidents were interviewed; two declined participation; and one institution had an interim president at the time of the study.Each president submitted a copy of his/her curriculum vitae for review and analysis, and each president was then placed into one of the variations of the Academic or the Administrative Career Patterns presented by Wessel (1991). Additional data was collected through personal in-depth interviews with each participant, and an interview guide approach was used in each of the interviews.The results indicate that there is no single career path that leads to a presidency.Presidents experienced both external and internal influences on their career paths and these varied in strength of influence based on the individual. Several other factors were also explored including: role of the family, preparations for a presidency and institutional search process.There are several implications for future research based on the findings of this study. The first of these is continued research into the debate of preparation either through the academic model or the administrative model. The second need for expanded research is the role of the family in the career path of college and university presidents. Finally the issue of the need for a Ph.D. is a point for further investigation.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Education Commons