Academic journal article Community College Review

Examining an Evolution: A Case Study of Organizational Change Accompanying the Community College Baccalaureate

Academic journal article Community College Review

Examining an Evolution: A Case Study of Organizational Change Accompanying the Community College Baccalaureate

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined the nature and degree of organizational change that occurs when community colleges offer their own baccalaureate degree programs. Utilizing qualitative research methodology, we investigated how executive administrators at two Florida colleges managed this momentous change process and how this transformation has affected their colleges' day-to-day operations. Our findings shed light on several important themes that emerged in interviews with the administrators: justifying the need for the degree, acquiring state approval and regional accreditation, modifying existing college policies and services, meeting challenges that are inherent in this transition, and developing strategies for leading this institutional transformation. Our goal was to provide a better understanding of this multifaceted organizational change process to help community college stakeholders make educated decisions regarding the introduction of 4-year degree programs at their institutions.

Keywords

community college baccalaureate, organizational change, leadership strategies, administrator perceptions, program approval process

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One of the most noteworthy, and controversial, issues in contemporary American higher education is the increasingly popular trend of community colleges offering bachelor's degrees. A community college baccalaureate (CCB) degree has been defined as "one coming from public community colleges or 2-year institutions that are approved to confer baccalaureate degrees in one or more areas" (Floyd, 2006, p. 64). Because the highest degree conferred by the community college has traditionally been the associate's degree, the introduction of the CCB represents a landmark shift in the services provided by these postsecondary institutions. The immediate and long-term implications of the CCB for all of American higher education corroborate the need for empirical research on this topic. Although numerous position papers have been written by both advocates and critics of the CCB phenomenon, very few empirical research studies have specifically addressed the CCB (Floyd, 2005). The study reported in this article sought to address this gap in the extant higher education research literature by illustrating the opportunities and challenges community colleges are likely to encounter when launching a 4-year degree program.

The purpose of this study was to explore the nature and degree of organizational change that occurs when community colleges offer their own baccalaureate degrees. Whereas most previous studies have examined the CCB movement from a national or state perspective, this study explored the impact of the CCB at the institutional level. Two research questions guided the study:

Research Question 1: How do executive leaders at community colleges manage the organizational change accompanying the introduction of a 4-year degree program on their campuses?

Research Question 2: What specific changes in institutional policy and practice occur at community colleges as a result of introducing a 4-year degree program?

In presenting and discussing findings from this study, the primary goal is to provide a practical resource that can be used to make the transition process more seamless and successful for community college leaders who are considering, or planning, the introduction of baccalaureate degree programs at their institutions.

Literature Review

This thematic review of the literature focuses on three topics that are germane to the study. The emergence of the CCB and its pathway to prominence within the last decade is examined first. Next, because Florida serves as the setting for this study, attention is given to the key factors that have led to the appearance of numerous CCBs in Florida. The literature review section concludes with an examination of organizational change within the community college setting and provides a theoretical perspective to help explain why a growing number of 2-year institutions now award bachelor's degrees. …

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