The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Higher Education Administration: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Dr. Steven McCullar

Second Advisor

Dr. Heidi Hahn

Third Advisor

Dr. Brittany Williams

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Jones

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Leadership in higher education is often evaluated and scrutinized. As with many other professional settings, good leadership often defines the success of the organization. This is also true in higher education. In order to help define what success looks like in the area of leadership, one evaluation point is to examine the age and generational position of the leaders within an institution. Looking at these relationships and connections can open a pathway of understanding in relation to quality of leadership and strength of relationships between leader and worker. Other studies and evaluations exist on the Greatest generation, the Baby Boomer generation, and even more recently the Millennial generation. Yet, there is little research on Generation X and their experiences in managing between these other generations.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the evolution of the Generation X leader in higher education and their relationships with Baby Boomers, Millennials, and now Generation Z as they enter the workforce. Ten Generation X leaders working within a public college and university system agreed to participate in the study. Findings from this study, connected to the research questions, reflected themes of leadership journey influences, tendencies of the other generations and how those factors influenced interactions and best practice, and the outlook of leadership in higher education going forward. These themes revealed consistency in best practice, pitfalls, and optimism for what is ahead as Generation X leaders in higher education institutions lead from the middle.



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