An analysis of the elements of accession of African American women presidents of historically White four-year, state-supported colleges and universities

Date of Completion

January 2000


Black Studies|Women's Studies|Education, Administration




This qualitative research study examined the circumstances and life experiences that contributed to the accession of four African American women to the presidency of historically white, four-year, state-supported colleges and universities. Only six African American women hold such posts in these schools. ^ Primary data gathering was done through the standardized open-response interview (Weiss, 1994). Questions for the interviews were derived from the literature on African American Women, higher education administration, and the college presidency. A panel of experts assisted in the development of the research design, the interview protocols, and the interpretation of findings. ^ The data revealed the following as important in the accession of the women to the presidency: early years where parents instilled a love of learning and a desire to achieve, a solid college and university education, a career path of opportunities for leadership, and opportunities for the development of mentor/protégé relationships. ^ Implications of the findings include the following: greater awareness of the higher education establishment of the need to better nurture and utilize the talents of African American women, the need for more research on ways to identify intellectually gifted girls and women for leadership development, and the creation of mentoring experiences that will propel them toward high positions of leadership. ^