A Case Study of Three Female Presidents In Texas Colleges and Universities: Their Career Paths, the Challenges They Face, and Their Professional Accomplishments

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Curriculum and Instruction

Date of Award

Summer 2014


The purpose of the study was to explore the career pathways, challenges faced, and accomplishments of three female presidents of colleges and universities in Texas. The researcher sought to explore the career paths of three presidents to determine whether a consistent sequence of professional positions exists that leads to the office of president. This study also examined whether challenges and accomplishments were similar or different depending on the type of institution represented. This study employed qualitative research using a case study method. Case study research investigates a phenomenon or special issue by exploring one or more cases related to the topic. Data were collected from three women serving in the position of president. These presidents represented a senior-level public institution, a community college that was part of a large system, and a private 4-year university. Data collection involved interviews, documents, questionnaires, and other sources of information. The procedures used in the collection of the data included face-to-face interviews, phone conversations, and digital recordings. Responses from all data collection were transcribed, sorted, analyzed, and coded to highlight four research questions in which five themes emerged.The first theme was the need of all three presidents acquiring terminal degrees within their respective fields. The second theme focused on the career intentions of each president and the distinctive paths each traveled to reach her position. The third theme identified included the difficulty in balancing career and family responsibilities. The fourth theme was the lack of networking of models and mentors within higher education. Finally, the fifth theme involved participants' recognition of their accomplishments without the course of their journeys. All participants had dominant characteristics that included confidence in their leadership abilities and the responsibility to support and encourage other women to seek presidential positions. Additionally, all participants were motivated by their weaknesses and strengths, which were revealed in daily decision making at their respective institutions.Findings included the following: (a) all presidents determined that it was necessary to acquire terminal degrees without regard in seeking presidential positions, (b) each president followed a different pathway to the presidency with each indicating that presidency was never a part of their career expansion, (c) all experienced stress related to the balancing family responsibilities and achieving success in their positions as president, (d) major barriers included the lack of networking and role models within higher education for females and males, and (e) all three women based their career accomplishments on their various life experiences and the courses they followed.


Madeline Justice

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Higher Education