Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Uldis Smidchens

Second Advisor

Dr. John Bernhard

Third Advisor

Dr. Hal Boles


The study was designed around an occupational-distribution model developed by Milner (1979) and adapted for the present study to include the factors: (a) years of schooling, (b) quality of education, (c) job experience, (d) information about openings and promotions, (e) geographical regions, and (f) deliberate discrimination. Twenty-five hypotheses, thought to be related to the adapted model, were developed and tested. A particular goal was to examine possible screening factors that may limit women and members of racial minority groups in securing higher education presidencies.

A survey questionnaire, mailed to the population of 1,227 persons, yielded 1,015 usable responses (for an 83% usable response rate) after five contacts. Data analysis resulted in two conclusions related to the general population: (1) informal networks were reported as having been important to the presidents both in learning about position openings and in being nominated for presidencies, and (2) those presidents who reported having had mentors generally regarded the relationship as important to their careers.

The proportion of women presidents was lower in 1983 than that reported for 1968 in the Ferrari study. The women differed from the white, male respondents in that: (a) women more frequently reported having experienced discrimination in quests for academic positions, (b) women more frequently had been promoted from within their institutions, (c) women had been less mobile, (d) women had spent more years as faculty members and department chairpersons, and (e) a higher proportion of women had earned either an Ed.D. or a Ph.D. degree, except when presumed members of religious orders were included in the analysis.

The minority-group and the white, male respondents differed in that: (a) white males reported having experienced mentoring more often, (b) minority-group members more frequently reported having experienced discrimination in quests for academic positions, (c) minority-group members, except for presidents of historically-black institutions, had been more mobile, (d) a greater proportion of minority-group member presidents had earned either an Ed.D. or Ph.D. degree prior to becoming presidents, and (e) a greater proportion of minority-group member presidents reported having earned their most advanced degrees from "most competitive" or "highly competitive" institutions.

The study concluded with recommendations for policy changes and for further study.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access