Diversity Leadership in the Community College: Bridging the Gap

Diversity Leadership in the Community College: Bridging the Gap

RaShaunda V. Sterling, James R. Williams
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2668-3.ch020
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The chapter examines the disconnection between the diversity of community college students and community college administrators. The history of community colleges in the United States is presented, along with the demographics of the typical community college student. A definition of leadership is provided, and theories of diversity leadership are discussed. Methods of producing greater diversity at the administrative level are also explained. In particular, Kotter’s eight-stage model for organizational change is presented as a means of altering a college’s culture to promote greater diversity leadership. Further, strategies that can be used to increase diversity in community college leadership, with an emphasis on the role that technology can play in promoting diversity leadership, are presented. Directions for future research are shared.
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In 1901, Joliet Junior College, the first public community college in the United States, was founded in Joliet, Illinois (American Association of Community Colleges, 2011). Today, there are 1,167 public, private, and tribal community colleges (American Association of Community Colleges, 2011). Historically, these IHEs have provided a way for students who have had limited access to post-secondary education to attain a college degree (Barnes & Piland, 2010). Because of their open admissions policies, community colleges have been able to serve a more diverse student population than universities (Crews & Aragon, 2007).

Until around 1970, community colleges were called junior colleges (Robinson-Neal, 2009). The main purpose of these institutions was to offer training beyond the secondary level and to prepare students for either a vocational field or for the university (Dunning, 2008). The term community college became more widely adopted during the 1970, as the mission of these institutions expanded to include more continuing education, job-training, and social programs (Dunning, 2008; Robinson-Neal, 2009).

First-generation, academically limited, minority, and low-income students are most likely to attend a community college (Achieving the Dream, 2005; Crews & Aragon, 2004). These factors often make it more difficult for community college students to graduate (Achieving the Dream, 2005; Astin, 1993; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). Because minorities are more likely to attend a community college, less likely to transfer to a four-year university, and least likely to graduate from any post-secondary institution, there is a dearth of minorities who have the education and experience to reach leadership positions at IHEs (Robinson-Neal, 2009).

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