Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award



Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Jennifer T. Butcher

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Jamie Goff

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Linda Wilson-Jones


According to the American College President Survey of 2017, 30% of college presidents across the country are female, and only 5% of that population is represented by women of color (Gagliardi et al., 2017). Diversity in leadership positions, more specifically in the higher education sector, is a critical need as higher education institutions continue to develop sustainability strategies in response to impending demographic changes (Virick & Greer, 2012). The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative research study was to describe the lived experiences, pathways, and successful strategies used during career trajectory by former or current African American female college presidents in the United States. Framed by intersectionality and Black feminist thought, a phenomenological qualitative research study utilized data from six African American women who were serving, or had served, as college presidents in the United States. The findings revealed that while African American female college president had an overall positive experience during their pathway to presidency, remnants of racial discrimination, gender discrimination, and the Queen Bee Syndrome had an impact on their career trajectory. Despite these roadblocks, it was determined that internal confidence, mentorships and professional development opportunities, specialized skill sets, and a community of support led to them to achieving college presidency. The findings of this study can be utilized by aspiring African American female college presidents, current university governing bodies or boards, and university human resource professionals within the United States higher education system to identify and implement strategies that better support aspirant college presidents.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.