The ongoing underrepresentation of administrators of color in higher education suggests that traditional career pathways make racial equities in administrative leadership elusive. This personal narrative explores middle-manager educational and career experiences—some often-overlooked aspects of higher education administration. Using leadership and career development theories, I draw on qualitative approaches to examine my own career journey as one academic affairs administrator of color who has experienced a history of career change, lay-off, and non-traditional moves within and across diverse institutions. Through an inductive approach for analyzing data in my career narrative, emergent themes incorporate data references “calling,” citizenship, and cultural change in academic affairs administration. The analysis of this study has implications for interventions in succession planning and career development for administrators which would result in increased racial equity along the pathways toward academic leadership.


Leadership, Higher Education, Academic Administration, Career Development, Personal Narrative, African American

Author Bio(s)

C. Dean Campbell has served as Assistant Dean for Academic Services in The Graduate College at North Carolina A&T State University (NCAT) since 2012. He participates in leadership and management of the unit with a focus on developing strategic direction and managing the implementation of admission and enrollment activities to meet strategic services provided to students throughout their matriculation. Campbell is a member of the graduate faculty and teaches as an adjunct instructor in the NCAT School of Education’s Adult Education master’s program. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Yale University, master’s degree in Higher Education Administration and Student Development from Boston College, and Doctorate in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Administration from the University of Southern California. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: cecildec@hotmail.com.


The author wishes to thank Drs. Karri Holley, Edelma Huntley, and Sweeney Windchief for their help on earlier drafts of this manuscript.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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