Queer leadership : a phenomenological study of the experiences of out gay and lesbian higher education presidents
Bullard, Eric A.
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The purpose of this dissertation was to better understand the experiences of "out" gay and lesbian higher education presidents. Of the more than 4,500 institutions of higher education in the United States, only 30 presidents have identified themselves as gay or lesbian. As institutions of higher education face large scale retirements at the presidential level in the coming years, it will be increasingly important for search committees and boards to consider hiring qualified gay and lesbian candidates for the presidency. Using the lens of Queer Theory, this study identified and described gay and lesbian presidencies through the direct experiences of current gay and lesbian presidents. Using qualitative research methods, the study was conducting using semi-structured interviews with three gay male presidents and three lesbian female presidents. Study participants included those from public and private institutions, and represented both large and small, and urban and suburban campuses. In accordance with an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis approach, four stages of data analysis were undertaken to analyze the text for patterns, trends, and themes that emerged and developed from the participants' responses. The analysis used personal and in-depth detail derived from individual interviews to describe the experiences of 'out' gay and lesbian higher education presidents. The findings of the present research study provided new insights about the experiences of "out" gay and lesbian higher education presidents. Analysis of the data presented three themes, "identity", the "LGBTQ presidency", and "future LGBTQ presidents and leaders". The three themes were backed by twelve sub-themes, all of which answered the primary research question, "What are the experiences of openly gay and lesbian presidents in institutions of higher education?" The interview data yielded new information for search committees, boards, human resources professionals, and LGBTQ persons to consider when hiring for or pursuing a presidency.