The People's College: A Review of Local Community College Governing Boards through the Lens of Descriptive Representation

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Community College Journal of Research and Practice

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This article examines the long-overlooked governmental body, the local community college governing board, through the lens of descriptive representation, to assess what variables are associated with minority representation. Higher education governing boards have long lacked diversity, let alone any type of proportional representation, but an examination of descriptive representation of local community college governing boards, which oversee a large portion of minority undergraduates, has been missing from the literature. Using OLS regression and logit methods for analysis of original data, the results provide evidence that those boards are far from descriptively representative and that social and environmental characteristics impact board diversity. The findings indicate that board size and the percentage of Black residents can play a significant role in the selection of Blackboard members, establishing an important empirical foundation in light of descriptive representation scholars’ findings that descriptive representation can lead to substantive benefits. Given the important role of community college governing bodies that serve approximately half of the nation’s minority undergraduates, this research is important as a stepping stone for further study of community college governing boards, who serves on them and why that matters.


Community College Leadership



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