Education Doctorate

Year Approved


First Advisor

Mary Whitman

Second Reader

Jessica Daniels

Third Reader

Scott Moats


The transition of a college or university president is inevitable. Presidential tenure is becoming shorter and turnover becoming more commonplace at private and public higher educational institutions. Thriving higher education institutions rely on effective leadership to navigate critical areas such as enrollment, financial health, and fundraising, and to meet the competitive demands and pressures facing institutions today. Presidential transition is a significant change to the operation and culture of a higher education institution. Colleges and universities cannot minimize the effect of leadership change and must diligently plan and prepare to adequately address the direct and indirect effects of a presidential change. This study examined the difference in key performance indicators, pre-and post-presidential transition, using a quantitative, non-experimental research design approach. The study used secondary data to study how a presidential change (independent variable) influenced enrollment, financial health, and fundraising at private, not-for-profit 4-year colleges and universities with an enrollment of more than 750 students and less than 10,000 students. The findings of this study revealed positive and negative relationships between the 13 dependent variables and the presidential transition in higher education. Recommendations for practitioners embarking on leadership transition such as a presidential change include the importance of organized succession planning, engaging in a fully developed transition plan, and hiring well.

Degree Name

Education Doctorate

Document Type

Doctoral dissertation