Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name



Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Ingrid Guerra-Lopez


In a mixed methods study designed to explore the competencies and strategies utilized by self-described successful leaders of public, four-year U. S. institutions, this study confirmed that there was little difference among academic and non-academic leaders in their approach to successful change beyond that found in terms of non-academic preference for resilience and an academic preference for personal learning. Both leaders (N=47) showed high agreement for the nine proposed competencies, five of which were statistically higher in perceived importance (personal learning, resilience, emotional engagement/creating a safe space, networking/coalition building, and project management). Adapting Bolman and Deal’s four frames (2013) as an organizing framework for interview responses (N=25), the most frequent strategy themes in descending order were: personal strategies (including resilience, perseverance, setting expectations, establishing credibility, openness, adaptability/flexibility), political strategies (including knowing who to engage, scheming, sr. leader support, academic leader discretion), structure strategies (including forming/staffing a team and team activities such as benchmarking, use of a change model, creating a team charter), and symbolic strategies (including communication, inspiration, and emotional engagement activities). This study supports the creation of a competency framework that could be used for the recruitment/selection, coaching/mentoring, and ongoing development of both academic and non-academic higher education change leaders. Planning and change launch with communication were the primary phases referenced; institutionalization was minimally featured. Leaders would do well to partner with others in central units such as organizational development and/or human resource professionals to set change goals, monitor and evaluate progress, and embed the change into organizational structures, systems, and processes.