Career pathways and demographic profiles of university presidents in the U.S.: 2000--2008

Lourdes Sanchez, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to obtain a better understanding of the career paths and profiles of contemporary university presidents. The study provided a broad perspective in terms of what institutions and governing boards are looking for when searching for a new president. It also helped to know the trends in those accepting these positions, namely education, career path, gender, and age. I used the following questions to guide the focus of this study: (RQ1) What are the demographic characteristics of current university presidents (e.g., gender, age, ethnicity, marital status, and geography)? (RQ2) What academic and non-academic career paths did presidents take to their current appointment? (RQ3) Are the demographic characteristics and career paths of current presidents different from those outlined in previous studies? (RQ4) What are the demographic characteristics of institutions that selected nontraditional presidents? ^ The changes in mission, personnel, structure and funding of higher education institutions have been significant in American universities hence creating the need for further research on university presidents and their career paths (Mangan, 1998). Since the progressive era, leadership roles have improved and school keepers became professional managers who made a career out of reshaping schools, subsequently there have been repeated studies of the personal, educational, and career experiences of individuals who serve as leaders of higher education institutions (Tyack, 1995). ^ The significance of this study was to provide a broad perspective in terms of what current institutions and governing boards are looking for when searching for a new president. It also revealed the new trends in those accepting these positions, namely education, career path, gender, and age. ^ For the purpose of this study, a quantitative method was applied. This study was set to be exploratory in nature, using mainly descriptive statistics to describe the demographics and career paths of the current university presidents while using the most complete demographic and job history data compiled to date. Data was be obtained from existing public records maintained by the colleges and universities selected for inclusion in the study. ^ The usage of quantitative techniques allowed me to become the main data collector, code, measure the data, and interpret the data in a descriptive way and to have a better understanding of the areas being studied. According to Gall, Borg, and Gall (1996), these techniques enabled me to identify trends of certain data through frequency counts. ^ In order to accomplish these goals, I did the following: (1) the identities of the participants will be kept confidential and only known to my study. (2) I assigned participants a number. Written reports and any oral presentations were referred to as numbers. ^ The participants examined in this study were a university president to a large research university “flagship” (Doctoral/Research Universities-Extensive) and one mid-size state university (Comprehensive University) in each state. In addition, I intended to study a sample of large private research institutions. Institutions which specialize in arts, medical, and the military will be excluded. ^ Once the data was coded and placed into the different categories of the spreadsheet, I then developed various matrices which consisted of descriptive statistics. In order to analyze data and gather report findings, a matrix was created for each category in the study. Having a better understanding of who the current presidents are, and the various career pathways to this earned position, will allow those aspiring leaders to plan their own pathways to presidencies. Furthermore, armed with this knowledge aspiring individuals will focus concisely on identifying and participating in opportunities that will help develop the skills necessary in order to assume a president position. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Sanchez, Lourdes, "Career pathways and demographic profiles of university presidents in the U.S.: 2000--2008" (2009). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3358896.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI3358896

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