Leading at the crossroads: Understanding how identity influences presidential communication for Black community college presidents





college president, leadership, social justice, communication


Research on leadership is historically biased, with little consideration for different experiences of leaders of color. In this study, we applied the integrated race and leadership framework (Ospina & Foldy, 2009) and utilized a case study approach focused on the context of institutional communication to analyze the experiences of six Black community college presidents. The study was guided by the overarching question of how racial identity guided what and how presidents communicated. Our findings indicate that these presidents of color viewed their communication through a social justice lens, while also recognizing their responsibility to the institution. Five themes were identified that highlight the strategies and approaches these presidents take when communicating to their campus, including: 1) a consciousness of who is listening, 2) a sense of racial battle fatigue, 3) a focus on local impact, 4) connection and support from the community, and 5) the skill of racial and social adaptation.


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Author Biographies

Jon McNaughtan, Texas Tech University

Jon McNaughtan is an assistant professor at Texas Tech University where his research focuses on the role and experience of college leaders, with an emphasis on presidents. In this vein he has studied how presidents are selected, their communication strategies during time of crisis, and how they engage with campus stakeholders. Through this line of work he hopes to assist in the development of future college leaders.

Bryan K. Hotchkins, Texas Tech University

Bryan K. Hotchkins is an assistant professor at Texas Tech University. A critical race pedagogue, Dr. Hotchkins studies the relationship between identity development and organization climate. More specifically, his research problematizes issues pertaining to the intersection of leadership, activism and access across K-20 educational contexts. Dr. Hotchkins’ research is guided by questions related to how institutional environments and racial constructions influence student, faculty and administrator involvement on campus.




How to Cite

McNaughtan, J., & Hotchkins, B. K. (2021). Leading at the crossroads: Understanding how identity influences presidential communication for Black community college presidents. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 29(January - July), 39. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.29.4694



Striving for Social Justice and Equity in Higher Education