Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


King, Stephanie B.

Committee Member

Stumpf, Arthur D.

Committee Member

Wiseman, William M.

Committee Member

Davis, James E.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Community College Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Educational Leadership


The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the career paths and preparation of female vice-presidents employed in community colleges in the state of Mississippi. There is limited qualitative information available that describes the career paths of vice-presidents in the state’s community colleges. Community colleges are making great strides in promoting women in leadership roles in administration, but research indicates there still seems to be a question as to the leadership ability of women. This study used the qualitative case study research approach, and 4 female community college vice-presidents shared their career experiences through in-depth interviews. The instruments included a brief demographic survey, interview guide and curriculum vita for each participant. Each participant in this study was currently serving in the position of vice-president in 1 of Mississippi’s community colleges. The conceptual framework of the study illustrates the exploration of female community college administrators in the areas of career paths, professional responsibilities and career aspirations. The participants described their career paths to their current positions by educational levels, diverse professional experiences, sharing their career barriers they faced in their career paths, the strategies that helped them succeed. They described their professional responsibilities which involved association with organizations outside their normal responsibilities. They also described barriers or obstacles faced while accomplishing their professional responsibilities, as well as strategies for overcoming those barriers. The participants described their major accomplishments in their professional career and offered advice to aspiring female community college vice-presidents. The key themes that emerged from the study include professional experience diversity, parental influence, importance of mentor relationships and positive role models, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) participation, facing and overcoming professional challenges, and the positive influence of serving others. Of the 4 study participants, 3 indicated they did not set out to become community college vice-presidents. Each participant felt it was her exposure and diverse backgrounds that got her noticed, and all were well prepared when the opportunity to serve in this role presented itself.