Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Edward Raspiller

Committee Member

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Philip A. Reed


The combination of a weak economy with a corresponding decline in tax revenue has created deficits in state and local budgets which adversely affect the financial stability of community colleges. This leaves community colleges struggling to continue to provide education in support of their missions. To provide a source of alternative revenue, community colleges are embracing the spirit of entrepreneurialism and transforming themselves into profit-seeking businesses.

This quantitative study, using a web-based survey and descriptive and inferential statistics, focuses on factors perceived by college presidents and workforce development officers to affect the practice of entrepreneurialism in 71 community colleges in the Appalachian Region, a mostly rural federally designated region which encompasses all or part of 13 states in the eastern United States. A panel of experts reviewed the survey for content validity; and a pilot test study was done for reliability of the instrument. Independent samples t tests on early and late responders were conducted for response bias. Participant response rates were: (1) presidents – 34 of 71 (48%), 24 rural and 10 non-rural; (2) workforce development officers – 33 of 71 (47%), 19 rural and 14 non-rural; (3) community colleges – 55 of 71 (77%); and (4) overall response rate was 67 of 142 (47%).

Major significant findings included universal acknowledgement of a reduction in state appropriations, the importance of the encouragement of the president, entrepreneurial training for the executive team, and the use of entrepreneurial activities to generate revenue. Using independent sample t tests with a p < .05, rural presidents and workforce development officers reported the physical location of their colleges adversely affects the number of industries in the area and impedes fundraising and workforce training opportunities.

This research confirms the physical location of community colleges in the mostly rural, mountainous Appalachian Region adversely affects their ability to generate alternative revenue through fundraising and workforce training, two major sources of outside revenue available to community colleges. Further research is indicated to discover which alternative methods best generate revenue for rural community colleges. Since this research is limited to one region, it is recommended that a study be conducted of all community colleges in the United States.