Exploring Perceptions of Effective Leadership Practices of Presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities


  • Sydney Freeman Jr. University of Idaho, USA
  • Robert Palmer Howard University, USA




HBCU, College & University Presidents, Effective Leadership


Anchored in the anti-deficit approach, this manuscript investigated perceptions of effective leadership practices of presidents at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). This manuscript provides a unique contribution to the literature by utilizing a general qualitative research approach to learn from a diverse set of voices of leaders and scholars within this sector that serve in various roles (e.g., Deans, Vice Presidents, and scholars) or who study leadership at these institutions. The study found that effective leaders at HBCUs generally have success across two categories — experiential skills and professional knowledge. This study adds to the paucity of literature in this area by expanding and complicating our understanding of effective leadership practices of presidents at HBCUs.


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Author Biographies

Sydney Freeman Jr., University of Idaho, USA

SYDNEY FREEMAN, JR., Ph.D., is a tenured associate professor of adult, organizational learning, and leadership at the University of Idaho and has published over 80 publications. He completed Pine Forge Academy, which is one of four Historically Black Boarding Academies in the United States. In 2018, he was honored by the National Pine Forge Academy Alumni Association with its “Meritorious Award”. Dr. Freeman also attended and completed his Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies at Oakwood University, wherein 2017 he was recognized as one of “the Alumni Faces of Oakwood University”. And earned a master's and Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at Auburn University in Alabama at the age of 26. Earlier this year he was named “the 2020 recipient of the College of Education Outstanding Young Alumni Award”. And most recently, he was honored as one of the Accomplished Under 40 award recipients for 2020 by the Idaho Business Review.  Email: sfreemanjr@uidaho.edu

Robert Palmer , Howard University, USA

ROBERT T. PALMER, Ph.D., is Department Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Howard University. His research examines issues of access, equity, retention, persistence, and the college experience of racial and ethnic minorities, particularly within the context of historically Black colleges and universities. Dr. Palmer’s work has been published in leading journals in higher education, such as Journal of College Student Development, Teachers College Record, Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, Journal of Negro Education, College Student Affairs Journal, Journal of College Student Retention, The Negro Educational Review, and Journal of Black Studies, among others. Since earning his Ph.D. in 2007, Dr. Palmer has authored/ co-authored well over 100 academic publications. Email: robert.palmer@howard.edu