Date of Award



© 2020 Mark J. Braun

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Marylin Newell

Second Advisor

Corey Berg

Third Advisor

James McCormick


The purpose of this descriptive phenomenological study was to understand a nontraditional university president’s transitional experience of the presidential search process and the competencies he believed he possessed and how those competencies have been utilized as a university president. The study utilized Creswell’s approach to phenomenology to document the experience of going through the search process. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU, 2016) report, the AASCU State College and University Presidential Competency Model, provided the framework for this study. This study used that framework to evaluate whether the nontraditional president has the same competencies called for in the model.

This study addresses two research questions. What is the experience of a nontraditional candidate who transitions from industry leader to a university president? How does a nontraditional university president translate his professional competencies into the role of a university president? This study used an in-depth semi-structured interview with the nontraditional president. The interview focused on his previous experience and competencies, his candidacy and appointment experience, and about applying the previous developed competencies in the academic environment. The setting was a Midwest public flagship university where the president came from a nontraditional career pathway.

The nontraditional candidate followed a nontraditional path during the search process because he believed the process was flawed. The nontraditional president demonstrated the majority of the competencies called for in the AASCU model. The governing board also broke with the norms by meeting with a potential candidate before he had gone through the search committee process. The search process was rooted in the culture of the university, which led to a negative reaction to the nontraditional president. When search committees and governing boards are interviewing candidates, regardless if they are traditional or nontraditional, they should use the AASCU (2016) model as a framework for evaluating candidates. To avoid a negative reaction, the search process needs to be clearly defined at the beginning of the search and any candidate, traditional or nontraditional, must follow that process.


Ed.D. Dissertation