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

Rachel Friedensen

Second Advisor

Fred Hill

Third Advisor

Mumbi Mwangi

Fourth Advisor

Ajay Panicker

Creative Commons License

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

Keywords and Subject Headings

African American women, higher education, narrative research, stereotypes, mentoring, educational leadership


This research study explored the experiences of African American women as they navigated challenges along their pathways to the position of president of colleges and universities. While there has been an increase in the percentage of women of color serving as presidents, the number of African American women holding these positions still needs to be higher. Therefore, this study focused on African American women as presidents in Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs). I conducted a narrative inquiry designed to encourage participants to share their stories. I explored two research questions: 1) How have African American women navigated the administrative labyrinth to the presidency of colleges and universities? 2) How have race and gender affected African American women’s pathways to their institutions’ presidencies? The following five themes emerged from the analysis of the data: Breaking with traditions, The desire for success, Professional and personal support, The desire to be president, and Finding one’s way through the labyrinth. The findings show that African American women were steadfast, resolute, and determined to succeed despite the many challenges and barriers along their pathways to the presidency. In addition, the findings revealed that both private and professional mentoring helped the participants and that it was significant for their early aspirations for the position of president.



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