Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education

First Advisor

Dane Joseph, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Marc Shelton, Ed.D.


This study explores the evolving equity-focused purpose and structure of community colleges in the United States in the early 2020’s and examines how the leaders of these culturally critical higher education institutions make sense of their place within complex social and educational contexts. This study describes the function of these equity-essential institutions and identifies key structural barriers and student success interventions; explores how community colleges have worked to realign their missions and visions in light of changing student demographics and emerging student-success research; and reflects on the professional foundations, conceptual frameworks, and resources necessary for community college leaders, particularly deans new to their roles, to effectively serve their students, colleagues, and community. Leading with Racial Equity, Structuring Along Guided Pathways, and relationship- based micro-political leadership are anchor points for leaders in this context. Each anchor supplies a reference point for decision-making and action as day-to-day challenges arise. Once functional and structural landscapes are assessed, this study provides an Open Educational Resource (OER) handbook for new community college administrators as they adapt to their roles. Example professional learning models and strategies for assessing the efficacy of onboarding resources are also provided.

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