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

Michael Mills

Second Advisor

Linda Keup

Keywords and Subject Headings

Leadership development. campus-based. grow your own leaders


As the field of higher education becomes more complex and professionalized, some institutions are responding by growing their own leaders through local, grassroots leadership development programming for faculty and staff. There is a significant body of research on leadership, though no universal theory of leadership exists. And, although campus-based leadership development has been studied modestly around the world, and considerably in community colleges, there is little broad knowledge and a significant lack of empirical research about such programs at four-year colleges and universities. This qualitative research study investigated three university campus-based leadership development programs. It seeks to provide an improved understanding of how the programs are structured, which components are perceived to be most helpful in building leadership capacity, how participants have translated the learning from the program into their work, what organizational outcomes have been observed, and the challenges of program implementation. The programs in this study varied in shape, size and configuration. The theoretical bases for the programs also varied widely and were often difficult to articulate. Program components with the greatest effect on developing leadership competencies among participants included the group project as well as those that gave participants opportunities to learn more about the culture, complexity and operations of the university. Participants translated what they have learned through the programs into their work in many ways, but especially through the strong professional network that developed among program participants. More nuanced translations of learning also surfaced, and the themes of complexity and context continued to emerge. Program participants and planners provided significant evidence of outcomes attributed to the programs. Many of the group projects leave a lasting footprint. The professional network created new partnerships across campus and improved workplace efficacy. Participants developed tools for more effective management and leadership and program alumni remain engaged in content planning and ongoing development. Program planners faced many challenges in implementation of the programs, including time, resources, program scope and content development. Similarly, defining a talent management strategy, and using it to inform the development and operation of the campus-based leadership development programs is also a difficult to accomplish in the diffuse, often decentralized environment of higher education. The results of this study should provide higher education leaders and leadership development program planners with new context and understanding about campus-based leadership development programs that will help inform the development of future programs and assist in reshaping those that already exist.



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