Administrative Fellows Experiences in Achieving Leadership Development Goals via Participation in a University Sponsored Program

Open Access
Corby, Michelle E
Graduate Program:
Workforce Education and Development
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
September 22, 2014
Committee Members:
  • William J Rothwell, Dissertation Advisor
  • Rose Marie Baker, Committee Member
  • Wesley Edward Donahue, Committee Member
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • women's leadership development
  • women in higher education
  • fellowship programs
  • university sponsored leadership development
Marketplace competition is increasing in higher education, the number of traditional college-age prospective students is decreasing, and external pressures from stakeholders to keep costs low and value high for students are becoming more intense. Leaders in higher education must address these issues to position their institutions to attract top students, faculty, and administrators. Since the current higher education leadership workforce—mostly White male administrators—is retiring, there is a need to develop the next generation of leaders positioned to face the unique challenges of higher education. Women administrators continue to lag behind in securing senior leadership positions in higher education and preparing the next generation of women leaders to tackle these current industry challenges is an urgent issue. Researchers need to examine why women in higher education are not advancing in larger numbers to senior leadership positions and what sponsors of leadership programs can do to support the advancement of women leaders. The purpose of this study was to examine how one university-based leadership development program is enabling women to assume leadership positions and whether that program was meeting its stated objectives. A qualitative case study approach was used to analyze the lived experiences of study participants. Nine administrative fellows who participated in the Administrative Fellows Program at University X from 2004 to 2013 were interviewed and secondary data were reviewed and analyzed as a part of the case study. The results revealed a generally broad overall alignment of main themes between the fellow’s understanding of the goals for the Administrative Fellows Program and organizational goals. However, a few misalignments were noted between the fellows and the program centered primarily on learning activities during the fellowship and experiences and expectations for advancement opportunities after the fellowship year. Recommendations are made regarding two critical components of the Administrative Fellows Program at University X. The first is an examination of the learning activities of the program. The second is an examination of the mentor- mentee roles and the related relationship and expectations.