Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Davis, James

Committee Member

Wiseman, Marty

Committee Member

Lovell, Ned

Committee Member

Stonecypher, Wayne

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Community College Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Instructional Systems, Leadership and Workforce Development


Community colleges continue to play a vital role in the higher education system. However, the institutions’ commitment to open access has been problematic for leaders as enrollments continue to increase, but the institutions’ ability to maintain their services and remain committed to their mission has been decreased. With regard to state funding for education, community colleges generally exist as the least funded entity. Most states place a clear emphasis on financial support for K-12 institutions, often viewing institutions of higher learning as secondary in the funding process. The purpose of this study was to examine community college funding trends in other southern states in an effort to discover advantages associated with a stable funding process in Mississippi. The researcher used a finance survey to survey fifteen southern states in February 2008. Thirteen of the states returned a completed survey, with South Carolina and West Virginia declining participation. Results of the survey yielded several interesting findings. First, with the exception of Alabama, all of the surveyed states reported the utilization of funding formulas in the appropriation process to a certain degree. Second, the concept of community college governance is being actively explored by states that participated in this study. Finally, tuition and fees continue to rise among community colleges in the surveyed states, which undermines the institutions’ ability to maintain their open-door policies. Several recommendations were also made as a result of this study. First, the State of Mississippi should reconsider how its public community colleges are governed. Second, the state’s community college leaders should continue to press for full funding of the Mid-Level Funding Bill. Third, leaders should conduct periodic surveys of peer institutions in other SREB states. Fourth, leaders should continue to develop community college alumni associations and foundations. Finally, leaders should increase awareness of the state’s community and junior colleges.