Date of Award

Spring 3-5-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Len Hightower

Second Advisor

Jasmine Ruys

Third Advisor

Nancy Wada-McKee


The higher education environment is currently in a state of transition and uncertainty; institutions must locate, train, and maintain talented individuals in key administrative positions. Against this backdrop, the definitions and responsibilities of individual positions are being altered. Many mid-level administrators now are being expected to assume increasing leadership responsibilities as well as maintain managerial duties. The higher education registrar is a mid-level administrative role that is undergoing this type of transformation. The position of registrar typically is a mid-level administrative position, and the 21st-century registrar is considered to have both management and leadership responsibilities. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the management and leadership role of the higher education registrar and the skills needed to fulfill that role, as perceived by registrars, senior-level administrators, and faculty leaders at private, 4-year institutions of higher education in California. For this qualitative ethnographic study, data were collected through registrar job descriptions from 6 institutions and through in-depth interviews with 6 higher education registrars, 6 senior-level administrators, and 6 faculty leaders. All participants perceived the registrar as both manager and leader within the department, but there was disagreement regarding the registrar’s role as the institutional leader. Participants identified a variety of factors that were considered to impact the registrar’s role as a campus leader. Three management skills (articulate communicator, organized, knowledgeable about higher education) and 2 leadership skills (demonstrates interpersonal skills, visionary and able to see the big picture) were perceived by the study sample as particularly important for the role of the registrar. Each subgroup of participants identified additional skills as particularly crucial. The findings of the study may be used by institutions of higher education to define the registrar’s role in the institutional governance structure and to strengthen their human capital. Additionally, the identification of desired skills allows for the development of training programs for current registrars to maximize their potential and succession planning for future registrars to be suitably prepared for this complex administrative role.