Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educ Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

David F. Ayers

Committee Member

Kim E. Bullington


Several factors contribute to the challenges community college leaders face in maintaining and sustaining noncredit workforce development programming. For example, these factors include funding reductions from state legislators and corporations using internal training departments for workforce development. There are community colleges that do overcome these challenges and achieve sustainability, provide revenue to the college, and increase and expand programming. The purpose of this case study was to identify strategies that contribute to the sustainability and success of community college noncredit workforce development programs.

The research focused on two community colleges in the United States that are nationally recognized for achieving sustainability within their noncredit workforce development programs. Interviews with senior leaders, mid-level administrators, and program managers at both community colleges informed the findings. Additionally, I gathered data through a document review that corroborated information gathered during the interviews. The major findings discovered from the interviews and reinforced by the document review are related to the success and sustainability of the two colleges in the study. Five major themes emerged (1) Education and experience: A winning combination, (2) Embracing a strategic focus on process, (3) Establishing functional roles within the department, (4) Building and maintaining trusted relationships with community and industry partners, and (5) Creating an organizational structure that will withstand personnel changes. There are current strategies identified in the literature for remedying diminished funding and addressing ways that community colleges can overcome funding shortfalls. However, the current literature lacks discussion of strategies that enable a noncredit workforce development division at a community college currently generating revenue to transform into one that becomes sustainable and fully supports itself. The literature does not address those colleges on the verge of sustainability seeking strategies to implement, which will propel them to that next level. The results of the current study provide tangible actions for those who lead and manage noncredit workforce development divisions at community colleges.


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