Degree Granting Department
Adult, Career and Higher Education
Donald A. Dellow
AACC, Chief Academic Officer, Leadership Development Experiences, Leadership Skills and Abilities, Vice President Instruction
Over the last two decades, several studies have confirmed that there is a leadership crisis among the nation's community colleges. In response to this leadership crisis, the American Association of Community Colleges [AACC] commissioned the development of a leadership competency framework consisting of six leadership competency areas deemed "either `very' or `extremely' essential to the effective performance of community college leaders." Since the release of this framework, limited research has been conducted on the importance of and the preparation in the identified competencies. The majority of research that has been conducted has focused on the position of president, even though there are several leadership positions within community colleges that are facing a leadership crisis. One such position is that of academic affairs officer.
This study had two purposes. The first was to extend the research that has been conducted on the AACC leadership competencies by examining how community college academic affairs officers perceived the importance of and their own level of professional preparation in the identified competencies. The second was to examine the leadership development experiences that academic affairs officers identified as the most beneficial to their professional development as academic affairs officers.
This study was a quantitative, descriptive, correlational design and used a questionnaire to collect data. The population for this study was academic affairs officers at public community colleges in the United States. The academic affairs officers that were included in the population were identified from the membership directory of the AACC. The survey instrument used for this study was based on the AACC leadership competency framework, as modified by Duree, which included 45 leadership competencies summarized into six leadership competency areas: organizational strategy, resource management, communication, collaboration, community college advocacy, and professionalism. Using two four-point scales, academic affairs officers (n=102) were asked to rate the importance of and their own level of professional preparation in the identified competencies. The survey instrument also asked academic affairs officers to rank the top five leadership development experiences that they feel have been the most beneficial to their professional development as academic affairs officers.
In general, academic affairs officers believe that the AACC leadership competency areas are important for effective leadership in leading academic affairs. The most important leadership competency area was communication, followed by organizational strategy, community college advocacy, collaboration, professionalism, and resource management. In addition, academic affairs officers perceive that they are moderately or very well-prepared to perform many but not all of the identified competencies. For those identified competencies that academic affairs officers did not feel as prepared to perform, several were rated as important for effective leadership.
Academic affairs officers ranked progressive job responsibilities as the leadership development experience felt to be the most beneficial to their professional development as academic affairs officers. Academic affairs officers then ranked challenging job assignments; participation in institutional task forces, committees, and commissions; and networking as the second, third, and fourth most beneficial leadership development experiences, respectively. The fifth most beneficial leadership development experience was networking, followed by attendance at conferences and specialized workshops. Based upon frequency totals, university-based degree programs and mentoring (role as mentee, not mentor) were also considered beneficial leadership development experiences.
The significance of this study is that it provides practical, relevant, and timely information for both current practicing academic affairs officers and those who aspire to lead public community colleges in the position of academic affairs officer. The results of this study have several implications for practice. These implications include: to inform those persons seeking academic affairs officer positions of the relative importance of the AACC leadership competencies and the leadership development experiences deemed to be the most beneficial by a sample of incumbents; to inform leaders of higher education and professional development programs of the leadership competencies that should perhaps be included in the curricula of their programs; and to provide resources to be used by search committees in formulating desired qualifications and, later, in interviewing candidates for the position of academic affairs officer.
Scholar Commons Citation
Price, Misty Renee, "Academic Affairs Officers: An Application of the American Association of Community Colleges Competencies for Community College Leaders" (2012). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.