Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Chief Diversity Officers in U.S. Higher Education: Impacting the Campus Climate for Diversity
by Mednick Takami, Lisa, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2017, 205; 10286152
Abstract (Summary)

Chief Diversity Officers remain a relatively new phenomenon among higher education executive leadership positions. Existing literature on CDOs’ professional profile, their ability to impact campus climate for diversity, and their obstacles in the pursuit of campus climate change and deeper cultural transformation is still quite limited. This basic qualitative study explored the lived experiences of 13 chief diversity officers and two senior diversity professionals working at public colleges and universities in the United States.

Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Pederson, and Allen's Racial Climate Framework and Gusa's White Institutional Presence formed the conceptual framework to analyze the data. The study found that while CDOs come from a wide range of academic disciplines and professional backgrounds, they share key skill sets and a profound commitment to social justice change. Given a CEO’s backing and integrated campus partnerships and planning, CDOs can make significant impact on their institutions’ policies, practices, and systems such as diversity hiring and promotion, admissions criteria, and curriculum, though they must apply resilience, grit, and skill to confront the current socio-political context following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the broader pervasive manifestation of White privilege in U.S. higher education settings, and problems including insufficient budgets.

Findings provide a greater understanding of the professionalization of the higher education CDO role. Findings also revealed that CDOs strike a balance between addressing a campus’ past racial incidents and developing a hopeful and forward-looking mindset, and they engage race talk using both direct and indirect means. The CDO seeks structural changes to benefit historically marginalized students, faculty, and staff which transcend campus leadership including the CDO. CDOs of Color can experience the need to use White surrogates to be heard at work and distinguish executive advocacy from activism to their racial ethnic community. Recommendations are made to replicate best practices in CDO work, influence policy makers to consider procedures affecting historically marginalized populations, and conduct further qualitative and quantitative empirical inquiries on CDO leadership and the impact on the campus climate for diversity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Vega, William M.
Commitee: Davis, Shametrice, Pagel, Richard
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 78/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher Education Administration, Educational leadership, Multicultural Education, Higher education
Keywords: Campus climate, Chief Diversity Officers, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion
Publication Number: 10286152
ISBN: 9780355084573
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