School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


James Zabloski


College Presidents, Higher Education Institutions, Leadership Practices, Leadership Team, Transformation, Transformational Leadership


Education | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this single instrumental case study was to explore the transformational leadership practices of Dr. James L. Doti, the president emeritus of Chapman University, Orange County, California. The theory that guided this study was the transformational leadership theory by James McGregor Burns and Bernard M. Bass. The central question for the study was, “How did Dr. Doti lead the transformation of Chapman University between 1991–2016?” This study investigated the president’s demonstration of the four components of transformational leadership as identified by Bass: Idealized Influence, Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation, and Individual Consideration. The setting was at Chapman University, Orange County, California. The participants included Dr. Doti, board members, senior administrative staff, administrative staff, faculty, and the community of donors, who were part of the transformation of Chapman University during Dr. Doti’s 25-year tenure. Data collection was via interviews, document analysis, and observation of archival videos. Open coding of verbatim transcriptions and triangulation of all sources of data were used to develop themes. Three themes were generated from the data analysis: (a) Dr. Doti’s Compelling Vision, (b) Dr. Doti’s Personal Charisma, and (c) Dr. Doti’s Financial Acumen. Dr. Doti personified transformational leadership. He became the president of Chapman College at a critical time in its history. Dr. Doti cast a new compelling vision for the school which he articulated through a series of five, five-year strategic plans. Aided by his winsome personality, active fundraising, and wise financial management, Dr. Doti led the transformation of Chapman from a sleepy liberal arts college in southern California to a mid-sized university of national stature.