Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Dana D. Burnett (Director)

Committee Member

Christopher R. Glass

Committee Member

DeRionne P. Pollard

Committee Member

Alan M. Schwitzer


The role of ethical leadership for community college presidents is of concern (Anderson, Harbour, & Davies; Wood & Nevarez, 2014), especially given the added pressure on community colleges to increase completion rates for student populations that have historically underperformed academically. In these times of increased scrutiny to produce more college-educated people ready to enter the workforce, college CEO’s are facing a completion agenda climate that is rampant with financial constraints, greater demands from stakeholders, and governmental mandates. The purpose of this descriptive, multiple case study was to examine how community college presidents execute ethical leadership in responding to institutional policy implications stemming from the completion agenda. This study explored the ethical construct Achieving the Dream (ATD) community college presidents operationalized as they employed decision-making processes related to implementing completion agenda policies at their institutions.

The findings revealed several themes that contribute to community college presidents’ ethical leadership: accountability to stakeholders, advocacy for and validation of the community college mission and its students, transparency in decision-making and issues confronting the community college, and equity when dealing with students, the community and employees.