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Table of Contents
                            St. John Fisher College
Fisher Digital Publications
Navigating Straight Waters: The Lived Experience of How Out, White Gay Males Have Successfully Navigated the College Presidential Search Process
	Bil Leipold
	How has open access to Fisher Digital Publications benefited you?
		Recommended Citation
	Navigating Straight Waters: The Lived Experience of How Out, White Gay Males Have Successfully Navigated the College Presidential Search Process
		Degree Type
		Degree Name
		Subject Categories
Biographical Sketch
Table of Contents
List of Tables
List of Figures
Chapter 1:  Introduction
	Problem Statement
	Theoretical Rationale
	Potential Significance of the Study
	Statement of Purpose
	Research Questions
	Definitions of Terms
	Chapter Summary
Chapter 2:  Review of the Literature
	Introduction and Purpose
	Topics Analysis
	Chapter Summary
Chapter 3:  Research Design Methodology
	General Perspective
	Research Context
	Research Participants
	Instruments Used in Data Collection
	Procedures for Data Collection and Analysis
Chapter 4:  Results
	Research Questions
	Data Analysis and Findings
	Summary of Results
Chapter 5:  Discussion
	Implications of Findings
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D
Appendix E
Document Text Contents
Page 1

St. John Fisher College
Fisher Digital Publications

Education Doctoral Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education


Navigating Straight Waters: The Lived Experience
of How Out, White Gay Males Have Successfully
Navigated the College Presidential Search Process
Bil Leipold
St. John Fisher College

How has open access to Fisher Digital Publications benefited you?
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This document is posted at and is brought to you for free and open access by Fisher Digital Publications
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Recommended Citation
Leipold, Bil, "Navigating Straight Waters: The Lived Experience of How Out, White Gay Males Have Successfully Navigated the
College Presidential Search Process" (2014). Education Doctoral. Paper 170.

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Page 2

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Degree Type

Degree Name
Doctor of Education (EdD)

Executive Leadership

Subject Categories

Lesbians and gays are one of the most ostracized and marginalized groups in the U.S. (Rankin, Weber,
Blumenfeld, & Frazer, 2010). With a limited number of out, gay leader to study, minimal research has been
conducted on how gays have navigated their way into visible leadership positions (Fassinger, Shullman, &
Stevenson, 2010; Snyder, 2006). The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the lived experience of
how out, White gay males have successfully navigated the presidential search process. The study utilizes the
framework of social dominance theory, queer theory, and co-cultural theory in exploring the historical and
current environment for lesbian and gays within the U.S. This national study utilized a qualitative,
phenomenological approach. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 participants. Study findings
included: (a) most gay men have a non-traditional career pathway to the presidency; (b) mentoring and
networking plays a significant role for gay men in the pursuit of a career as a college president; (c) while gay
men are resilient in overcoming the dominant heteronormative culture impacts, dominant culture beliefs
continue to play a significant role in the search process; (d) gay men believe that being out during the search
process speaks to their integrity and character; (e) gay men strategically utilize two communication
approaches when communicating with the dominant culture in an effort to assess if the heteronormative
environment will be affirming; and, (f) in deciding on institutional fit, gay men seek to synergize their skill set
and values with that of the hiring institution.

This dissertation is available at Fisher Digital Publications:

Page 105

President B. President B is in the first presidency of his career. His career in

higher education has followed a traditional pathway from assistant professor to dean to

provost to president—all at four-year public doctoral-degree-granting institutions. He

worked at several institutions in the Northeast before moving to the Northwest. President

B stated that he was, “ . . . out in graduate school. I was not out in my initial search for a

faculty position.” He came out to a mentor in his first faculty position.

That was really the first coming-out moment ,and then I was pretty much out from

that point on, because I had no reservations in disclosing that, and I was just sort

of getting into the community, so it just sort of came out across campus in that

way at that moment.

He is currently leading an urban public four-year graduate-degree-granting institution in

the Northwest. He lives off campus and has been with his partner for more than 14 years.

He was partnered when going through the search process.

President C. President C is in his second institutional leadership position. He

worked in the private sector after graduate school and moved into higher education via a

faculty position. Within higher education, President C has navigated his way from a

faculty position to dean to the chief executive officer. President C has been out since

graduate school. “I was a teaching assistant, ran a residence hall, and was a graduate

student advisor for programming. So, I started out pretty much as out and so that

essentially continued throughout my journey.” Currently, he is a president of urban,

private four-year graduate-degree-granting institution in the West. He lives off campus

with a partner of five years.


Page 106

President D. President D is in his first presidency. He worked in a specialized

school within higher education on both the West and East coasts. He began working in

higher education as an entry-level staff member and was promoted to various leadership

positions within student services and enrollment services. Before completing his

doctorate in the Midwest, he moved into an academic leadership position within a private

Midwest four-year degree-granting institution. After several years at the Midwest

institution, he was promoted into the provost position. President D stated that he

came out in college and, ever since then, I have been out. I was out from the very

first job that I had . . . being out in [a West-coast urban setting] was not a difficult

thing to do—thank goodness—but I would have been out anyway because, at that

time, it was who I am, and I was not ever going back in the closet.

President D currently leads an urban, private specialized school that grants undergraduate

and graduate degrees and is located in the Northeast. He and his partner of 17 years both

live on campus. President D was partnered when going through the search process.

President E. President E is in his first presidency. He began his career in an

entry-level staff position at a large four-year public doctoral-degree-granting institution

on the West coast and then moved to an urban area in the Northeast where he accepted a

staff position at a public agency. After obtaining his graduate degree in the Northeast,

President E moved back to the West where he entered back into higher education and

moved through various staff positions at a large public, urban four-year graduate-degree-

granting institution and was awarded tenure as a faculty member. President E was then

awarded a fellowship in the president’s office where he assumed various administrative

positions and found himself moving back and forth between academic leadership


Page 210

Appendix E

Permission from Author to Use the Co-Cultural Communication Graphic

from: Mark Orbe [email protected]

to: Bil Leipold <[email protected]>

date: Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 8:42 AM

subject: Re: Request to use table

Morning, Bil. You have my permission to using the co-cultural graphic described below.

Good luck with your dissertation!

From: "Bil Leipold" <[email protected]>
To: "mark orbe" <[email protected]>
Cc: "bil leipold" <[email protected]>
Sent: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 2:11:23 PM
Subject: Request to use table

Dr. Orbe:

Good afternoon. My name is Bil Leipold and I am a doctoral student in the Ed.D.
program at the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr School at St. John Fisher College. I am doing my
degree on how out, White gay men navigate the college presidential search process.

I have chosen to use co-cultural theory as one on my theoretical frameworks. I have just
completed a draft of Chapter 4 and on way to diving into chapter 5. As I have reviewed
all of the chapters, I found that is much easier for readers to understand some of the
theories and findings when using a graphic. As such, I would like to request to use the
following graphic that you developed that provides a visual overview of your
theory. Below is the graphic that I have found in your 1998a,b publications.


mailto:[email protected]
mailto:[email protected]
mailto:[email protected]

Page 211

Co-Cultural Theory Overview
Separation Accommodation Assimilation









Developing Positive


Averting Controversy








Utilizing Liaisons

Educating Others

Extensive Preparation




Sabotaging Others


Gaining Advantage


Strategic Distancing
Ridiculing Self

(Orbe, 1998a, b)

I would be happy to have a discussion with you about the request. I look forward

to hearing back from you soon.




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