Seher Awan


The California Community College (CCC) system is the largest system of higher education in the United States, with 72 districts and 113 colleges. The CCC system exhibits statistics demonstrating success; however, as with any organization, trust, communication, and leadership play an essential role in creating stable and productive organizations. Institutions that struggle with trust within the system are often plagued with rotating administration, a breakdown in communication, and accreditation issues. Unique to CCCs is the required participation of its staff in the decision-making process, which is known as shared or participatory governance. Along with participatory governance, the stringent accreditation standards and retiring work force create a delicate situation where trust and leadership are in a state of consistent transition. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the critical components of rebuilding trust within a CCC after trust has been broken. Specifically, this study focused on the practices a CCC administrator can engage in to rebuild trust within his/her institution after trust is broken. Based on in-depth interviews with eight CCC presidents, findings revealed that a president’s personal character, ethics, and morals are determining factors in developing and reestablishing trust within a CCC. The importance of relationship building, using multiple communication styles, and catering communication channels to target audiences played a critical role in these presidents’ ability to develop trust. Most importantly, strategic, authentic, and consistent leadership were some one of the most significant factors related to rebuilding trust within a CCC after trust has been broken. It is recommended that CCC presidents and administrators become familiar with the complex layers of CCCs, specifically with building and rebuilding trust within an institution. Additional research on the CCC presidential leadership style; the relationship among adult learning, emotional healing, and storytelling; as well as supplemental quantitative research to strengthen the external validity of this study are needed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; California Community Colleges -- Case studies; Community college presidents -- Interviews; Trust

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Harvey, Andrew;