Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. Donald Mitchell, Jr.


This qualitative study explored the lived experiences of foreign-born college and university presidents in the United States to determine how their cultural background and traditions influenced their leadership and prepared them to lead. The study also examined the strategies foreign-born university presidents, who self-identify as people of Color, utilized to navigate to and through the presidential pipeline and ways in which resiliency was demonstrated. The study was grounded in asset-based community development and resiliency which provided a framework to understand how the presidents contribute to their campus and local community and how they were resilient in their presidential roles.

Fifteen foreign-born college and university presidents representing ten countries participated in semi-structured interviews. The presidents were geographically located across the United States and represented public, private, 4-year, and 2-year institutions. Findings revealed the importance of education, family obligations, and the influence of culture on their decision to immigrate to the United States; the challenges of living in two worlds, straddling multiple identities, and how they negotiate their sense of belonging in the United States; challenges encountered on their pathway to the presidency; accent discrimination, biases, and having to work harder than their peers; and, assets the presidents bring, resiliency demonstrated, and the importance of a legacy.