Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Coats, T. Linda

Committee Member

Crittenden, Laura

Committee Member

Davis, James

Committee Member

Alexander, Mary

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Community College Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Education


Department of Educational Leadership


As ethical dilemmas arise in community colleges, administrators make decisions that require sensitivity to the organizational, political, and environmental factors surrounding their particular institutional climates and locales. The moral reasoning and ethical decision-making of community college administrators were examined in this study. In addition, the study evaluated these factors to provide an understanding, or lack thereof, of [potential] ethical challenges that may exist within a specific organization. Research questions for this study encompassed two perspectives: (a) moral reasoning and (b) ethical decision making. Moral reasoning was examined through participants’ perspectives of moral, professional, and organizational values. Ethical decision making was examined through participants’ assessments of ethical dilemmas using vignettes. Using descriptive statistics (frequencies, percentages, mean scores, and standard deviations), the results of this research study suggested that community college administrators in Mississippi have varying perceptions for moral, professional, and organizational values and ethical decision-making (behaviors). The findings of the study suggested that the most important moral values for community college administrators in Mississippi are truth, fairness, and responsibility and that members of their families would choose these same values compared to other groups within their communities. In addition, they suggested that communities will not provide the same solutions for ethical dilemmas in which they provided and community colleges should assist students by developing their (students) values and teaching them about ethics. In conjunction with leadership, the majority of community college leaders in Mississippi suggested that they are transformational leaders, which is indicative of their abilities to adapt their organization to fit its mission for their faculty, staff, community affiliates, and constituents.