Community colleges are an essential component of the higher education system and are critical to the nation's economic development. A number of challenges face community colleges, including the anticipated retirement of 84% of community college presidents within the next decade. In order to preserve their vitality, community colleges must be prepared to effectively select candidates to fill a large number of presidential vacancies. While the ultimate authority for hiring a community college president resides with boards of trustees, few studies have directly explored the perceptions of trustees regarding the desired qualifications of an ideal presidential candidate. The purpose of this study was to explore, from the perspective of experienced members of community college boards of trustees in Illinois, characteristics, competencies, and professional experiences considered essential for future community college presidents to possess. Through a 3-phase Delphi study, 41 trustees identified and rated the importance of 68 personal attributes, competencies, communication skills, leadership skills, professional experiences, and educational backgrounds. Nine items emerged as critically important for future community college presidents: (a) passionate about education - is a champion of community colleges; (b) good moral character - honest, has integrity, trustworthy; (c) articulate - ability to communicate in written and oral form clearly and professionally; (d) master's degree required; (e) dependable - follows through on commitments; arrives on-time or early for appointments and meetings; (f) good listener - makes people feel like what they're saying is important; is able to read body language effectively; (g) has the ability to establish trust; (h) team-player - understands the value of a team, able to recruit and assemble an effective team; and (i) vision - recognizes where the college is today, articulates where the college should be in the future, and generates buy-in for that vision. The findings of this study may be utilized by current and aspiring community college presidents, boards of trustees, and national associations and professional organizations. Furthermore, the results of this study indicate the need for additional research that explores trustees' expectations regarding future presidents as well as methodologies to effectively select candidates that are likely to be successful as community college presidents.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Community colleges -- United States -- Administration; College presidents; Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational technology

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Madjidi, Farzin