Date of Award

12-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

E. Grady Bogue

Committee Members

Norma T. Mertz, Otis Stephens, Terrell L. Strayhorn

Abstract

The purpose of this interpretive, multiple case qualitative study was to explore factors associated with presidential derailments in public research universities. The case studies involved interviews, document analysis, and observation. The population consisted of four public research universities in the United States. These varied and diverse sources of information produced the data for the investigation.

The findings revealed five derailment themes among the four cases. These were: problems with interpersonal relationships, poor selection of advisors, flawed search processes, unethical behavior, and the failure of the president to change or adapt to the new organization upon assuming the presidency. Three of the five themes from public research universities related directly to Leslie and Van Velsor‘s (1996) derailment themes from the corporate sector. These were: problems with interpersonal relationships, inability to build or lead a team (poor selection of advisors), and the inability to change or adapt to the culture of an organization during a transition (failure to change or adapt to the new organization upon assuming the presidency).

Finally, implications for preventing presidential derailments and for improvement in the presidential selection process are presented.

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