|TITLE||Leadership Practices of Senior Level Student Affairs Administrators in Proprietary Higher Education|
College of Education
Argosy University (Phoenix)
Unpublished doctoral dissertation: February 2017
The purpose of this study was to understand the leadership styles of high level administrators in student affairs departments in proprietary higher education.
The target population for this study consisted of senior level student affairs/services administrators (a director or dean of a student affairs departments or directors or the head of departments contained within the student affairs departments) at for-profit institutions of higher education in the United States (N=120). Fifty were randomly invited to participate and 40 percent completed the Leadership Practices Inventory (N=20); and four who participated were selected for follow-up interviews. There were 12 women and eight men in the sample, with 55 percent being Caucasian, 30 percent African American, and the remainder being Hispanic, Asian or Mixed Race. The typical respondent was 33-40 years of age (45%), with 5+ years in their current role (55%), and 13 held a master’s degree and seven a doctorate.
Enable was identified as the most frequently used leadership practice, followed by Model, then Inspire, then Challenge, and then Encourage. The researcher summarizes:
The second research question was designed to ascertain what strategies and skills were used by senior level student affairs administrators in for-profit institutions of higher education to develop leadership in their teams. Three themes emerged from corresponding LPI questions/statements and certain interview responses of the administrators. These themes were mentoring/coaching, inclusivity/participative, and relationships/needs. Specific references were made by the administrators to these themes in their answers to multiple questions, demonstrating a high level of importance and implementation (pp. 90-91).
The third research question was used to understand what variables influenced the choices the senior level administrators made. Two themes were detected in the responses to the LPI questions/statements and interview questions. The senior level administrators identified mentors/followers and experience as the most influential variables contributing to leadership choices. The themes exposed showed that mentors, followers, or experiences with others had a strong impact on how the leaders approached their current decision-making (p. 91).
The findings of this study revealed that the leadership practices created by Kouzes and Posner (2007) of modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, and challenging the process all scored at an above average level and were deemed important in the styles, skills, and strategies used by senior level student affairs administrators in for-profit higher education institutions (p. 106).
The results showed that administrators in the for-profit sector of student affairs in higher education valued and used similar leadership practices as those in the traditional sector as identified in other studies. The results further showed that while institutional values may be different, leadership values did not differ. All leaders seek to provide leadership that is inspiring, engaging, and enabling (p. 116).