Professor receives grant to support research on community college trustees and their decision making

Contact: Nicole Leffler

KALAMAZOO. Mich.—Western Michigan University's Dr. Regina Garza Mitchell, professor of educational leadership in higher education, was recently awarded the 2023 Support for Faculty Scholars Award (SFSA). This $3,000 award will support her project titled, “Community College Trustees: Mission, Values, and Decision-Making in Uncertain Times.” 

Dr. Regina Garza Mitchell

In collaboration with colleagues Dr. Susan Kater and Rebekah Gruel from Idaho State University and Dr. Brett Geier from WMU, Garza Mitchell is conducting a mixed method study of public community college trustees. This project replicates and expands on the most comprehensive study of community college trustees to date, the last of which was conducted more than 25 years ago. 

“Trustees serve a unique role that blends their values as citizens and as fiduciaries of the college. They are not paid officials of the college but citizen volunteers. We are interested in how trustees’ values intersect with institutional roles in attaining these goals. Specifically, we seek to understand how trustees’ values and their interpretations of the community college mission influence the way the board functions,” Garza Mitchell explains. 

The team is collecting the quantitative data needed with a series of surveys and will host focus groups and individual interviews with trustees at a later date to focus on how trustees’ understanding of college mission and values intersect with their personal values in making decisions that guide their institutions. 

Learn more about the study


The Support for Faculty Scholars Award exists to advance the research mission of Western. The SFSA supports research and creative activities in the organizational phases of establishing their research and creative activity project. Proposals are reviewed by the SFSA screen committee and are awarded on a one-year basis.

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