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Date of Award

Spring 6-11-2021

Author Requested Restriction

Open Access (no restriction)

Work Type

Dissertation in Practice

Degree Name

Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Gerald Pumphrey

Second Advisor

Rachel Endo

Third Advisor

Sy Ear


Asian Americans continue to be underrepresented as university and college presidents, despite the significant growth in population as well as in the number of Asian American college students. The purpose of this study was to examine the personal experiences, including leadership practices, insights, and attributes, of five Asian American community college presidents. The intent was to identify potential factors contributing to the underrepresentation problem. Additionally, supplemental data were collected from five trustees to enhance the overall quality of the study. Adaptive leadership theory was used as the theoretical framework for this study. Narrative inquiry was used as the methodology. Interviews were conducted with all five college presidents and five trustees. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed to determine common themes. The study found significant cultural influences on their respective career paths, including leadership practices. However, the presidents used different aspects of adaptive leadership to successful navigate their respective work environment. The presidents also reported experiencing some racial barriers, including microaggressions and subtle discriminations, during certain points of their careers. Most of the trustees in the study acknowledged that the underrepresentation of Asian American leaders in higher education signifies a systemic problem. They also understood the importance of diversifying in higher education institutions. As part of the study, recommendations were developed to provide advice for aspiring Asian American leaders who may be interested in pursuing college president positions. The recommendations included earning the highest academic credentials, obtaining varied administrative work and teaching experience, overcoming stereotype threat, and getting a mentor.