Date of Award

Fall 11-23-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Jeffrey Lee, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

John Cascamo, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Cheryl-Marie Osborne Hansberger, Ed.D.


The purpose of this ethnographic case study was to explore the culture of succession planning and leader development at Lipscomb University, using the 5C’s: Strategies for succession planning in the academy model. In the face of unprecedented disruption and complexity, the review of literature suggested the higher education sector in the United States is largely underprepared for the upcoming exodus and shortage of leaders. With religiously-affiliated institutions accounting for more than one in five colleges and universities in the US, there were no visible studies attending to succession planning and leader development in Christian higher education. Given the important contribution of these faith-based institutions to the educational landscape it is both important and significant to understand the culture of succession planning and leader development in this environment. The study identified nine themes related to the culture of succession planning and leader development at Lipscomb University, a member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. These themes were 1) Developing future leaders is a clear priority of the president, 2) Historic cultural and religious traditional norms are influential, 3) Purpose of the programs are clearly understood by participant, 4) Exposure and interaction with other leaders is highly valued, 5) Participants associate deep value with their engagement in programs, 6) Intentional and ongoing efforts to connect with the Nashville community is important, 7) Clarity around ongoing plans for participants is challenging, 8) Board of trustees prioritize succession planning efforts, and 9) Intentionally developing leaders who understand the changing landscape of higher education is critical. The results of the study have significant implications for presidents and board chairs as they consider the need to identify, develop and prepare the next generation of leaders for their institutions of Christian higher education.