Date of Award

Spring 3-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Graham Weir

Second Advisor

Dr. John Henschke

Third Advisor

Dr. Don Heidenreich


Little has been written about Mary Easton Sibley, the founder of Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, which until its acceptance of men in the mid-20th century was the oldest women’s college west of the Mississippi River and stands today, a thriving private coeducational institution, as the second oldest college west of that demarcation. This dearth of literature seemed unwarranted since Sibley was as progressive as her more famous East Coast contemporaries (Mary Lyon, Catharine Beecher, et al). All were motivated by the socially progressive Protestant evangelical movement known as the Second Great Awakening and by the founders’ quest for an enlightened citizenry. Sibley particularly embraced the founders’ notions of a useful, practical education. She was a strong-willed and generally admirable educational leader who founded a long-lived college during a cholera outbreak and in the face of criticism (for teaching young women to be independent and also for educating slaves at the St. Charles Sabbath School for Africans). This study shed new light on Sibley’s educational leadership through a comparative analysis using her spiritual journal and a book titled Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge (1985, 2007) by USC professors emeriti Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus. The researcher examined whether evidence of Bennis and Nanus’ four leadership strategies or competencies could be found in Sibley’s journal, which she wrote primarily during the founding of Lindenwood (circa 1831), the rationale being that if contemporary leadership theory was evidenced nearly 200 years ago, it would likely be relevant 200 years hence, and therefore could be considered valid for today’s educational leaders. The analysis required the creation of decontextualized researcher statements that enabled the iii coding of an historical document using contemporary theory. The study showed strong evidence of most of the researcher’s statements (e.g., Leaders are singularly focused on their agenda and produce results, Leaders know what they want and communicate that clearly to others, Leaders challenge others to act, etc.) There was moderate evidence of competencies involving an awareness of strengths and weaknesses, and evidence of social scaffolding was weak, largely because of the nascent state of the college during the period studied.


Copyright 2014