Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Tara Parker

Second Advisor

Katalin Szelényi

Third Advisor

Lorna Rivera


The purpose of my study was to explore the role of cultural values in the lived experiences of Latino college and university presidents at four-year higher education institutions and to determine how cultural values contributed to and reflected their professional strengths. Using the Community Cultural Wealth framework developed by Tara Yosso (2005) to capture the assets or forms of capital that people of color bring with them to all settings, this study utilized a strengths-based approach to examine the ways in which Latino higher education executives translated their cultural upbringing and values into skills and approaches that facilitated their ascension in the field of higher education. In semi-structured conversational interviews with 14 of the 21 identified four-year Latino college presidents, I explored a). the factors that facilitated Latino college presidents' success, b). the ways in which presidents used their cultural background and cultural values to ascend to leadership roles, and c). how their cultural backgrounds guided their approaches to and view of their role in higher education.

I conducted a qualitative study using testimonio, a form of narrative inquiry that began in Latin American studies as a way to expose the experiences and injustices endured by oppressed groups. Through testimonios marginalized individuals tell of their lived experiences to raise awareness of racism, classism or other forms of oppression and to also effect change. Testimonio and critical race theory are also based on individual narratives representing the collective experience of communities. Since this study looked at how Latino college presidents viewed the role of their cultural backgrounds in their careers, testimonios allowed me to capture the commonalities of those experiences.

This study adds to the literature by using the Community Cultural Wealth model and an assets-based approach to examine different cultural aspects or forms of capital of Latino college presidents and the role of these cultural elements in their ascent to a presidency. This study uncovered the extent to which culture has been a positive force and inspiration in the professional careers of Latino college presidents.