Community College Leadership and Administration

Theory, Practice, and Change

by Carlos Nevarez (Author) J. Luke Wood (Author)
©2010 Textbook XVIII, 290 Pages
Series: Education Management, Volume 3


This book, a training tool for the 21st-century community college leader and administrator, deconstructs outdated practices and constructs new approaches to how contemporary community college leadership is viewed, practiced, and envisioned. Both timely and comprehensive, the book develops new models that are focused on facilitating leadership innovation, and encourages both formal and informal leaders to become active agents for change. A relevant case study, written by an experienced community college leader, follows each chapter. This book will be useful for courses in administration, leadership, management, and related areas, and presents contemporary skills for anyone who is a leader and/or administrator in an organization.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Authors
  • About the Book
  • Advance Praise
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Preface
  • Case Study Framework
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter One: The Community College Vision and Mission
  • Chapter Two: Historical Legacy of Community Colleges
  • Chapter Three: Leadership and Leadership Theory
  • Chapter Four: Achievement Gap and the Role of Community Colleges
  • Chapter Five: Ethical Leadership and Decision Making
  • Chapter Six: Faculty in the Community College
  • Chapter Seven: Demographic Trends
  • Chapter Eight: Leadership in Student Affairs
  • Chapter Nine: Community College Finance
  • Chapter Ten: Community College Governance
  • Chapter Eleven: Leadership Development in the Community College
  • Chapter Twelve: Emerging Trends in the Community College


A large numbers of community college leaders and administrators are retiring and will continue to leave administrative positions now and in the years to come. Thus, there is a great need to prepare the next cadre of community college leaders focused on advancing the vision and mission of community colleges: (a) open access to education; (b) comprehensive educational programming; (c) serving the community; (d) teaching and learning; (e) lifelong learning; and (f) student success. In order to do so, leaders are needed who possess: (1) the ability to engage in critical thinking, analysis and reflection; (2) the ability to transfer academic knowledge (e.g., theory, models, research) into practice to address issues which arise in professional and social settings; (3) knowledge, appreciation, and inclusiveness with regards to diversity; (4) the ability to confront issues and resolve conflicts; (5) a well developed moral compass; and (6) the political savvy, social networks, and disposition to drive change in the community college.

The need to prepare a new kind of community college leader is of the utmost importance, as the roles and duties of community college leaders have changed greatly from previous generations. Leaders today need to realize the fundamental organizational changes required to better meet the needs of affiliated constituents and the necessity for growth and transformation of individuals and institutions. This will better enable them to guide their institutions in increasing educational outcomes and prepare them for a world market. For leaders to be effective in meeting accountability demands and responsibilities; ongoing traditional professional development opportunities need to be created and supported. Additionally, new trainings need to be aligned with contemporary leadership challenges. This allows leaders of colleges to guide their institutions in the midst of ambiguity, change, and pressures (e.g., financial, political) never before faced by community colleges. Community colleges will continue to face challenging times. Thus, there is a need to develop visionary leaders who can turn challenges into opportunities. ← VII | VIII →

This textbook serves as a tool in training the 21st-century community college leader and administrator. An in-depth review of community college literature quickly reveals a dearth of literature focused on community college leadership and administration. Further, the minimal literature which exists on this topic is out of date, with the majority of sources being published two to three decades ago. We began with a survey administered to community college leaders to gain insights about contemporary issues influencing community colleges. Based on the leaders’ responses, we undertook a thorough review of existing books, articles, reports, and other scholarly works on the topic. This was done in an effort to develop a core textbook that best addressed the needs of prospective and current community college leaders. Additionally, a case study follows each chapter. These case studies are written by community college chancellors, presidents, former presidents, and vice presidents, representing various national regions. Cases present issues which are anything but simplistic. Rather, they are dynamic, complex, and multifaceted in nature. The case studies serve to challenge readers to consider the intricacies of issues involved in community college leadership by promoting problem-solving skills and analytical thinking.

A review of the literature and leaders’ responses supports and makes a request to educational administration and leadership programs to further prepare leaders who will work successfully in diverse, complex, and dynamic community colleges. The profession of educational administration and leadership must prepare leaders who have a strong commitment to improving community colleges. Leadership and change are invariably connected: leaders influence colleges’ culture and climate, including the moral domains which ultimately affect student academic performance. This textbook will emphasize leadership, change, politics, community college mission, leadership theories/models, and research and practice as common strands which run throughout. A particular emphasis is placed on deconstructing and constructing new approaches to how community college leadership is viewed, practiced, and envisioned. In doing so, the authors have made great efforts to not simply restate common practices, but develop new models (e.g., leadership, change, case study framework) focused on facilitating leadership innovativeness. The option to continue to perpetuate sameness was not an option in writing this text. Rather, the authors challenged themselves, and subsequently readers, to think and create new approaches to leading community colleges. This sentiment was driven by the fact that a great majority of leadership practices are simply not effective. In all, the status of community colleges and the future trajectory of these institutions, serve as a guiding framework for this text. The intention was to challenge prospective and current leaders to think ← VIII | IX → differently in addressing the multitude of issues impacting community colleges while being solution oriented in how challenges are addressed and resolved.

This textbook will provide a variety of content chapters specific to community college leadership and change. Additionally, each chapter concludes with the presentation of a case study which requires leaders to use the information presented in each chapter to resolve a dilemma. These chapters include:

Chapter 1: The Community College Vision and Mission
This chapter focuses on clarifying, articulating, explaining and examining the vision and mission of the community college, as well as its infl uence on the functions and operations of the institution. Focus is given to critically examining the role and changing nature of these concepts in leading today’s community college. We also discuss the importance of leaders’ integrating the values of the community college vision and mission within their everyday leadership practices.

Chapter 2: Historical Legacy of Community Colleges
This chapter provides an overview of the history of the junior-community college with primary focus given to its origins. In doing so, this chapter will include the following: (1) an examination of social and philosophical forces which led to the development of the junior college; (2) an overview of the individuals who promoted its creation, specifically William Rainey Harper; and (3) a historical snapshot of the development of the junior-community college through seven periods.

Chapter 3: Leadership and Leadership Theory
This chapter will focus on leadership and leadership theory in relation to the community college. The following areas will be addressed: (a) differences, and commonalities between leadership and administration; (b) an examination of leadership styles (e.g., authoritarian, transactional, transformational); (c) an overview of primary leadership theories (e.g., trait-theory, behavioral theory, contingency-situational theory); and (d) a presentation of leadership approaches (e.g., bureaucratic leadership, democratic leadership, political leadership.

Chapter 4: Achievement Gap and the Role of Community Colleges
This chapter examines the community college achievement gap. In doing so, we present: (a) the p-12 influence on the community college achievement gap; (b) the personal and social benefits of postsecondary education; (c) persistence research and models; (d) the community college achievement ← IX | X → gap model, which identifies factors directly infl uencing two-year-college achievement disparities; (e) minority male initiatives; and (f) the guiding steps for community college leaders to address the achievement gap through the presentation of the Achievement Gap Action Model.

Chapter 5: Ethical Leadership and Decision Making
This chapter presents the concept of ethics as it relates to leadership in the community college. Focus is given to: (a) the importance of knowing the codes of ethics which govern the profession of community college leadership; (b) using multiple ethical paradigms (e.g., ethic of justice, ethic of critique, ethic of care, ethic of profession); and (c) employing ethical decision-making models.

Chapter 6: Faculty in the Community College
This chapter focuses on faculty in the community college. Specific attention is given to three areas: (1) faculty demographics (e.g., full-time vs. part-time faculty, tenure status, teaching load, degree status, rank, salary and job satisfaction); (2) faculty preparation and development programs; and (3) the current status of faculty diversity and the benefi ts of diversifi cation.

Chapter 7: Demographic Trends
This chapter introduces select demographic information on community colleges that focuses on: (a) institutional characteristics; (b) students’ characteristics; (c) faculty characteristics; and (d) administrators’ characteristics. Demographic trends are contextualized as an opportunity to further meet the changing needs of an increasingly diverse student population.

Chapter 8: Leadership in Student Affairs
This chapter focuses on student affairs leadership in the community college. Specific attention will be given to four areas: (1) the disconnect bet ween academic affairs and student affairs and its implications to student learning and personal development; (2) foundational and guiding student affairs documents (e.g., the Student Learning Initiative, Principles of Good Practice, Student Personnel Point of View); (3) the core functions of student affairs in relation to effective leadership practices; and (4) student development theory, with a primary focus on psycho-social theories.

Chapter 9: Community College Finance
This chapter examines finance in the community college and includes: (a) an overview of revenue streams for public two-year colleges; (b) an ← X | XI → examination of community college expenditures; and c) funding of college for students. Particular attention is placed on assessing whether the overall picture of community college finance is in line with the mission of these institutions.

Chapter 10: Community College Governance
This chapter will focus on governance in the community college. Information presented will be framed in accordance with a Conceptual Model of Community College Governance which depicts governance in these institutions. The focus of this chapter is twofold: (1) to provide an overview of the general governance processes at the state, local, and campus levels; and (2) to present four infl uences (i.e., national, statewide and local needs; ideological differences; internal influences; and external influences), which serve to “truly” guide governance in these institutions.

Chapter 11: Leadership Development in the Community College
This chapter focuses on the role of leadership development in preparing community college leaders. Therefore, we will: (a) examine challenges and opportunities facing community college leaders; (b) address the skills needed to successfully confront these challenges; (c) identify various leadership development programs designed for community college leaders; and (d) discuss the need for assessing the success of these programs.

Chapter 12: Emerging Trends
This chapter will summarize the mission of the community college in light of emerging trends facing these institutions. Particular attention is paid to: (a) challenges to “open-access”; (b) bachelor’s degrees; (c) the presidential initiative on community colleges; (d) increasing numbers of part-time faculty; (e) new and returning students; and (f) minority-student initiatives.

A case study follows each chapter, based upon chapter content. These case studies are written by community college chancellors, presidents, former presidents, and vice presidents, representative of various national locales. These executive educational leaders provide scenarios relevant to the everyday realities of community colleges. While challenging leaders to consider the intricacies of issues involved in community college leadership, cases present issues which are anything but simplistic. Rather, they are dynamic, complex, and multifaceted in nature. These dynamic issues call for dynamic leaders who can lead community ← XI | XII → colleges to better actualize their mission. Case studies are designed to encourage leaders to use chapter content to resolve a leadership dilemma. The authors have designed a case study framework to guide leaders in analyzing various cases and ultimately determining what resolution(s) should be enacted, if any.

Case study analysis is a good way to develop reflective leaders capable of solving and analyzing challenges facing organizations. This is done through the use of real case scenarios which originate from the everyday leadership practices of executive leaders. Through the presentation and analysis of factual scenarios, aspiring and current leaders will be able to develop analytical and problem-solving skills required to resolve the cases. These skills are paramount to the success of community college leaders.

Case Study Framework

We encourage leaders to use the following steps in analyzing cases. These steps will guide you in finding a resolution to the scenario; be mindful that these steps are not linear. Depending upon the content of the case, the steps may be co-dependent, multi-dimensional and fluid. Approaching case study analysis in this manner, will allow leaders to form a broader outlook on the intricacies specific to core elements of the case.


Figure 1 Graphical Depiction of the Nevarez-Wood Leadership Case Study Framework ← XII | XIII →

Step 1: Assume the role of leader, administrator, or both.

Step 2: Examine Relevant Information. List integral information that provides context and clarity to key elements of the case. These include, but are not limited to:

Setting—Describe the overall characteristics of the setting. For example, ask yourself: Is the organization located in an urban, rural or suburban area? What is the demographic makeup of the institution’s stakeholders? Is the setting public or private?

Key Characters/Groups —Identify the primary individuals or groups involved in the case. Note their relationship to each other and to the organization.

Special Circumstances/X factor(s) —Note special circumstances which give light to important elements in the case. For example, ask yourself: What is the historical interplay between key characters/groups in the case? What are the formal and informal power relationships that exist within the case? What are the institutional culture and/or values of the organization? What are the allowed behaviors and climate in the setting?

Step 3: Identify Underlying Problem(s) clearly and concisely. In identifying the problem(s), refer to information collected in steps 1 and 2.

Step 4: Analyze the case through multiple approaches. Leadership Approaches

Bureaucratic Approach—Conflict is presumed to be resolvable through the use of existing rules and regulations. If this does not suffice, then it is the responsibility of management to resolve the issue.

Democratic Approach—Assumes a human relations approach in which central characters involved with the case are sought out and included in resolving the case. This approach follows a “shared authority model.”

Political Approach—The political approach does not adhere to specific decision-making structures; rather, it utilizes any structure (e.g., bureaucratic, democratic) to gain influence over others. This approach in not necessarily concerned with how actions will impact the entire organization, rather how actions will play out in the sub-unit in which the leader resides. ← XIII | XIV →

Ethical Courses of Action

In resolving the case, consider the ethical implications of potential decisions. For instance, are they compassionate, equitable, professional, and lawful?


XVIII, 290
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2010 (April)
Community Colleges Leadership Administration Theory Transformation Politics
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2010. XVIII, 290 pp., num. tables and graphs

Biographical notes

Carlos Nevarez (Author) J. Luke Wood (Author)

The Authors: Carlos Nevarez is Director and Associate Professor of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership Program at California State University, Sacramento. He received his doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies and his Master’s in counseling, both from Arizona State University. His interests lie at the intersection of leadership, equity, and organizational change, and he has published numerous articles, reports, and policy briefs. He serves as Chair of the American Educational Research Association’s special interest group Multicultural/Multiethnic Education: Research, Theory, and Practice. Nevarez is also the co-editor of the Journal of Transformative Leadership and Policy Studies. J. Luke Wood serves as the Statewide Co-Coordinator of the Arizona Program for Policy, Ethics, and Education Leadership. He received his doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies with a concentration in higher education at Arizona State University. Wood is also the co-editor of the Journal of African American Males in Education, and Vice Chair of the Multicultural/Multiethnic Education: Research, Theory, and Practice special interest group of the American Educational Research Association. He is a member of the Maricopa County Community College District Minority Male Initiative and is a former outreach representative for Sacramento City College.


Title: Community College Leadership and Administration