Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Commitment to Diversity: The Journey of Two Christian Colleges Developing an Explicit Institutional Commitment to Diversity
by Berkhalter, Dara, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2018, 176; 10843216
Abstract (Summary)

Colleges and universities, to remain viable social institutions, will need to serve a more diverse population of students and do this well (Bierda & Chait, 2011). First, they must respond to the changing demographics of the nation. The minority population will most likely be in the majority by the next U.S. census (Humes, Jones, & Ramirez, 2011). According to information from the U.S. Census in 2010, 308.7 million people reside in the United States (Humes et al., 2011). This is an increase of 9.7% since 2000, and this increase is attributed to the growing population of those who do not identify as White (Humes et al., 2011). With this change, there will be an increase in diverse students in our schools and postsecondary institutions.

While Christian colleges should have made more progress on diversity-related efforts, such as enrolling more diverse students and increasing faculty diversity, the fact is that most have not—many have failed to recognize how diversity benefits students and the institution. This starts with an awareness of diversity and diversity objectives. The problems are many, but one key element may be that they do not have a ready-made roadmap to follow to make diversity an explicit part of their mission and focus. This study will highlight two institutions within the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities that have made an explicit commitment to diversity. The study will focus on the processes employed and challenges faced by two universities that have been successful in establishing a commitment to diversity.

The study followed a qualitative approach, and interviews were conducted with participants from two different institutions. The focus of the interviews was on the diversity statement, the roles of leaders in the change process, and the obstacles the institutions faced in becoming a more diverse community. Impacts of the diversity statement on faculty, curriculum, and leadership were also analyzed.

The major themes in the findings of the study included: (a) the link between institutional mission and values in diversity efforts, (b) the roles leaders played in the change process, and (c) the role of diversity champions in creating change. The results offer recommendations to college presidents and chief diversity officers for how to create change in diversity efforts on campus.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Eckel, Peter
Commitee: Hartley, Matthew J., Overton-Adkins, Betty
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Higher Education Management
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 80/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher Education Administration, Higher education
Keywords: Christian colleges, Diversity, Higher education
Publication Number: 10843216
ISBN: 978-0-438-33926-2
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