Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

First Advisor

Joseph B. Berger

Second Advisor

Michael Malone

Third Advisor

Gary Malaney

Subject Categories



The purpose of this study was to understand those factors that lead some community colleges to be more successful than others in pursuing and obtaining large grants. The impetus for the study derived from the experience of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and its effort to increase grant submission rates and successful awards to community colleges. A key concern of the NSF was why a small sample of some 150 colleges, out of the universe of 1,200 community colleges, are repeatedly successful well beyond the norm in obtaining NSF grants.

The primary research question addressed by the study is “why are some community colleges much more successful in winning large grants and what can be learned from them?”

A case study of two successful colleges was conducted, one on a large urban campus and one on a small and rural campus. The case study methodology included a mix of qualitative techniques incorporating document analysis, focus groups, and individual in-depth interviewing across a broad sample of institutional staff, faculty and administrators. A survey was also employed across a larger sample of community colleges that looked at the perceptions of grants officers on factors pertaining to the vii winning large grants for their institutions. Statistical analyses of the survey responses are presented in tabular form.

Two broad categories of findings are presented, the first pertaining to organizational leadership and the second pertaining to formal and informal organizational structures, policies and practices. Organizational leadership at successful colleges is characterized by the endorsement of grant development from the president, the deans and the department chairs. Effective leadership is seen in faculty empowerment and non-intrusiveness by enabling faculty to pursue grant work. Successful leadership is also seen in the promotion of community engagement and internal and external partnership and collaboration. Formal and informal organizational structures, policies and practices are characterized by structured opportunities for interdepartmental dialog and by an administrative grants office that supports faculty from the conceptualization of ideas through the actual submission of grant proposals.


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