Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Administration and Supervision

Major Professor

John T. Lovell


This study recognized the administration of Mildred E. Doyle, Superintendent of Knox County, Tennessee, Schools, 1946-1976. It was the first academic effort to examine the administration of the woman who held the elective superintendency during years which saw Knox County emerge from secluded Appalachian rurality to metropolitan growth. Two purposes guided the research:

l. To present an historical account of selected antecedents and of selected significant events in the development of school during the years of the Subject’s tenure as Superintendent of Knox County Schools; and

2. To identify and assess factors portrayed in the historical account which contributed to her attaining, maintaining, and losing the superintendency.

The historical account focused on the Subject, daughter of a politically active family in rural South Knox County. It followed her development as a young woman, active in local women’s athletics, sharing her father's interest in political affairs. The study included an account of her educational career from 1924 to 1946 when she became Superintendent of Schools in Knox County. Events of historical significance in the development of schools were identified by selected respondents representing Knox County Court, Knox County Board of Education, members of Knox County Schools central office staff, and school principals. Regarded as particularly worthy of note were programs for personnel development, curriculum improvement, school food service, and buildings and facilities. Events which preceded the Subject's loss of office were included.

Identification and assessment of factors which contributed to

Miss Doyle's attaining, maintaining, and losing the superintendency considered only those factors related to the County's social organization, to the political situation, and to the Subject's leadership. It was determined that factors which contributed to the Subject's attaining the position included the power structure's preference for emergent leadership within local educational generalists, her father's political support, and her own professional

qualifications. Factors which contributed to her continued reelection included the stability of her relationship with the local power structure, her own developing political expertise, and her exhibited leadership strengths. Four major factors contributed to Miss Doyle's loss of the 1976 election: rapid population growth with attendant social stress, growing instability in local political party affiliation, the Subject's advanced age, and change in her behavior patterns which did not meet community expectations.

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