Graduate School of Business


Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Betty Ahmed


traditional, nontraditional, leadership, education, change, adaptation


Business | Higher Education


Higher education is experiencing unprecedented challenges in a rapidly changing educational landscape. Leaders are charged with transforming their institutions to demonstrate their formidability by successfully responding to change. It is integral that leaders understand the happenings within the external environment as they guide their institutions. Institutions are adopting business postures and there is an increase in nontraditional leaders in administrative roles. The increase in nontraditional leaders is providing an opportunity for institutions to implement contemporary approaches to leadership. This study identified the predominant changes impacting liberal arts institutions in the Midwest, leadership behaviors contributing to successful change adaptation, and existent cultural elements. Twenty-three institutional leaders at liberal arts institutions within the Midwest were interviewed. This study named transformational leadership as the contemporary approach best suited for the current landscape. Overall, research participants perceived leadership cultivation as essential for traditional leaders. They perceived leadership behaviors that contribute to successful change adaption include a collaborative posture, communication, curiosity, and the ability to recognize change. This study is for leaders tasked with successfully adapting to changing enrollment and revenue considerations, prioritizing student satisfaction, and a changing generational perception of a liberal arts education.