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CHOOSING THE NEXT BEST PRESIDENT: ORGANIZATIONAL PROCESS OR CEREMONIAL RITUAL? AN ETHNOGRAPHIC LOOK AT THE INNER DYNAMICS OF PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH COMMITTEES AT TWO COMMUNITY COLLEGES

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/12111

CHOOSING THE NEXT BEST PRESIDENT: ORGANIZATIONAL PROCESS OR CEREMONIAL RITUAL? AN ETHNOGRAPHIC LOOK AT THE INNER DYNAMICS OF PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH COMMITTEES AT TWO COMMUNITY COLLEGES

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Title: CHOOSING THE NEXT BEST PRESIDENT: ORGANIZATIONAL PROCESS OR CEREMONIAL RITUAL? AN ETHNOGRAPHIC LOOK AT THE INNER DYNAMICS OF PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH COMMITTEES AT TWO COMMUNITY COLLEGES
Author: Sanderson, Larry
Advisor(s): Chavez, Dr. Alicia
Committee Member(s): McCleery, Dr. Steve
Bova, Dr. Breda
Torres, Dr. Eliseo
Department: University of New Mexico. Division of Educational Leadership and Organizational Learning
Subject: Community colleges
Presidential searches
Presidents
Higher Education Searches
White male leader paradigm
White male leader stereotype
LC Subject(s): Community college presidents--selection and appointment--Case studies
Community college presidents--Selection and appointment--Social aspects
Discrimination in higher education--Social aspects
Sex discrimination in higher education--Social aspects
Degree Level: Doctoral
Abstract: Over the coming years an increasing number of college presidencies will change hands. Choice of a new president who will effectively lead an institution is a decision of great importance to individuals within the organization and to the community the college serves. Most colleges employ a search process composed of representatives of key constituent groups to help identify and choose the new president. Yet, numerous participants in this activity and researchers have suggested that the academic search process has become more of a symbolic ritual than a process that effectively and consistently chooses the best candidates for executive leadership. A singular issue in the search process is the continued domination of presidential suites by white males (The American College President, 2007) contrary to changing demographics of student and national populations. For the most part, the search process has resisted examination partly because of issues of confidentiality and partly because of an amorphous mystique that wards off close examination. Traditional organizational analysis fails to completely penetrate the process. When institutions, participants, and processes are also viewed through an anthropological lens it becomes far easier to understand how participants develop meaning for their roles in search processes, how they relate to institutional culture, and how the search process may, in fact, contribute to a continued lack of diversity in executive ranks. This study, a critical ethnographic study of presidential searches at two comprehensive community colleges begins the process of deconstructing presidential searches by viewing the process through the eyes and experiences of individual participants. Through their stories we recognize the presidential search process as a ceremonial activity focused on serving varied constituencies as a means of conveying legitimacy on the final selectee. We see the process as a central activity within the culture of higher education and yet as one that has inherent flaws posing risks to candidates, participants, and potentially falling short of the stated objective of choosing the next best president for the institution. Nevertheless, as the research evolves we begin to identify ways in which the key ceremonial nature of the process can be maintained yet functional components changed in order to better protect the individuals involved and position the institutions to recruit and select the next best president.
Graduation Date: December 2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/12111


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