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Within this phenomenological study, we explored the lived experiences of 15 foreign-born U.S. college and university presidents (USCUP) to determine how their cultural background and traditions may have influenced their leadership and prepared them to lead. We also examined the strategies foreign-born USCUPs, who also self-identified as people of color, utilized to navigate to and through the presidential pipeline. We used asset-based community development to theoretically frame the study. The following research questions shaped this study: 1) What are the experiences of foreign-born USCUPs in their journey to the college presidency, and how do foreign-born USCUPs perceive the influence of their cultural background on their journey to the presidency? 2) What strategies and approaches can be identified from the experiences of foreign-born USCUPs in navigating the presidential pipeline and advancing to the presidency? Five themes emerged: 1) Coming to America; 2) Living in Two Worlds; 3) Ready or Not, Here I Come; 4) Go Back To Your Country!; and 5) If I Ruled The World. We close with recommendations for practice and future research.



Journal Title

The Qualitative Report

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1052-0147 or 2160-3715


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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.