Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Cherng-Jyh Yen

Committee Member

Dennis Gregory


Chief Academic Officers (CAOs) hold one of the most vital senior leadership positions at community colleges. Typically thought to be the second person in charge, directly under the president, their impact on the community college is crucial. CAOs have historically been considered the next in line to the president, and community college presidents were often CAOs before assuming their first presidency. The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) publishes Leadership Competencies for hopeful and current community college leaders. This study examined the perceptions of community college CAOs regarding the AACC Leadership Competencies for Aspiring Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), or presidents.

A survey instrument was distributed to CAOs with AACC member institutions. Demographic information was collected based on the number of years as a CAO, race, gender, and terminal degree status. Data were collected and analyzed by the researcher and guided by the purpose statement and research questions. The researcher accepted 102 surveys from which to collect data for the current study. The study results showed that CAOs are confident with focus areas: organizational culture, institutional leadership, and personal traits and abilities. They are least confident with focus areas: fundraising and relationship cultivating, information and analytics, and institutional infrastructure. CAOs identified the top three competencies that would keep them from pursuing an open presidential position: fundraising, familial impact, and budgeting.