Date of Award

January 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education, Health & Behavior Studies

First Advisor

Margaret Healy


The purpose of this study is to explore the perspectives of chief financial officers of public higher education institutions in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU) System regarding the professional competencies required of them, whether competencies have changed over time, and how competencies are acquired to successfully fulfill the demands of their position. Beyond the essential characteristics required for a CFO (chief financial officer) to perform the business side of their positions effectively, there are leadership competencies that are also required. Using a qualitative approach, this study explores the perceptions of CFOs regarding the knowledge and skills required of college CFOs, how required competencies may change over time, and how CFOs acquire needed competencies to successfully fulfill the demands of their position. I studied CFOs that have worked at least five years in the CFO role in the years since 2008 as that allowed for participants who had been through multiple legislative and budget cycles. From this study five themes emerged: 1) Not As Expected, 2) Position Has Changed, 3) How CFOs Learn, 4) Working Conditions, and 5) Deepest Concern. This study was an attempt to gain understanding of CFOs and their work lives.