Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Edward F. DeRoche, PhD, Chair; Cheryl A. Getz, EdD, Member; Jacqueline Shadko, PhD, Member


California, Chief Instructional Officer, chancellor's office, community colleges, higher education, Interpersonal communication, Leadership studies, shared governance


California community colleges enroll one out of ten public college students in the United States. The Chief Instructional Officer (CIO) serves as leader within each college. Research examining CIOs in California is limited. This study investigates work performed by CIOs and the organizational factors which support or impede that work. Four questions guided this study. What is the role of the CIO—what do they do? What are the organizational factors which support or impede CIO effectiveness? How do the CIOs influence the enhancement of learning and instruction? What changes would CIOs suggest to become more effective leaders? This study relied upon interviews, literature review and job descriptions to answer these questions. California CIOs define their responsibilities similarly to CIOs in national studies. CIOs in California work within a mandated system of shared governance. CIOs working in shared governance experience benefits and frustrations from a slow decision making process. Budgets are uncertain and inequitable thus inhibiting planning. According to these CIOs, advocacy for community colleges is hindered by an ineffectual Chancellor's Office. California CIOs have had little influence over policy and support strengthening their organizational influence. These CIOs affirm the central importance of communication skills. The ability to be persuasive and to possess interpersonal communication skills were linked to leadership. Effective persuasion requires honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. These attributes are enhanced when CIOs build relationships with school personnel. Good relationships enhance authority and paradoxically the exercise of authority diminishes influence. Besides possessing good “people skills,” leadership requires the ability to “add value” in problem solving, that is, to be knowledgeable about community colleges and to share that information. Adding value and being able to plan for the future are leadership traits identified by the CIOs. California CIOs believe a philosophical shift emphasizing learning over instruction is occurring. This change is reflected in accreditation standards emphasizing assessment of learning. It is too soon to know the impact of this emphasis on learning and whether it will make significant differences in improving student success, but CIOs believe they have made changes and are responding to the new emphasis on learning.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access