Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Larry H. Ebbers


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to understand the experiences of two community college interim presidents, their characteristics, and how they led institutions following an abrupt presidential departure. There were two fundamental questions framing this research study,

1. How do two interim community college presidents lead community colleges during a presidential transition?

2. How is an interim community college president`s leadership perceived by faculty and staff during a period of presidential transition?

There were two participating institutions in this study. The colleges, given the pseudonyms Urban Community College and Rural Community College District, were distinctly different. Urban Community College is a large community college in an urban setting and Rural Community College District is a small multi-college district in a rural setting. While these college differed in size, they shared a common experience--an abrupt presidential departure. Data collection consisted of one-on-one interviews and a review of documents. There were a total of 17 participants between the two colleges involved in a series of three interviews. Following the data analysis process, four shared themes emerged from the data. Themes from this dissertation included a) repairing institutional morale b) establishing an effective relationship with the board c) making strategic decisions to move the college forward d) dealing with budget challenges. There were also themes specific to the participating community colleges. At Urban Community College, a prevalent theme was the interim president`s role in rebuilding external relationships, and at Rural Community College District an important theme was the president`s emphasis on promoting openness, inclusiveness, and transparency. The dissertation is concluded with recommendations to future interim presidents and board members enduring an abrupt presidential departure. Additionally, recommendations are made to researchers of the interim presidency


Copyright Owner

Matthew Dennis Thompson



Date Available


File Format


File Size

138 pages