Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Institutional Barriers Affecting the Academic and Social Development of Underrepresented College Students: Perspectives of Administrators
by Redd, Lynnette A., D.Ed., University of Pittsburgh, 2018, 148; 13872035
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the perspectives of middle- and senior-level higher education administrators at a predominantly white institution (PWI) who provide minority-based programs and services that support underrepresented college students. This research aims to identify the key institutional systemic barriers that create challenges for the administrators in their effort to support underrepresented college students. Often underrepresented college students face academic and social challenges in their pursuit of obtaining an education; their experiences often differ from their white peers. Underrepresented college students attending PWIs are at greater risk of academic failure and adapting to their learning environment when institutional barriers are present and diversity and inclusion are not institutional priorities to promote an inclusive campus climate. Subsequently, administrators who support these students through their programs also encounter systemic barriers that create challenges. This task can be daunting for administrators at PWIs, often characterized by concerns induced by racism and the senior institutional leadership practices which influence systemic practices and policies. Using a qualitative semi-structured interview method, this study seeks to analyze the data gathered from 10 middle- and senior-level administrators interviewed at the University of Pittsburgh, a public research and PWI. The inquiry focused on the perspectives in narrative form. A qualitative analysis of interview results and pertinent literature review support identifying the key findings, themes, and interpretation. The data gathered in the study is analyzed using critical race theory (CRT), a theoretical framework and tenets of counter-storytelling and the permanence of racism. The qualitative study revealed the following emerging themes: institutional financial challenges; implications of existing silos; equitable resources and treatment are not always equal; social challenges create systemic discrimination and implicit bias; checking boxes and formality are common practices; administrators’ perspectives regarding racism as a factor; and senior institutional leadership and support they provide. The seven emerging themes from the data analysis reveal that racism and the influence of senior institutional leadership were tied closely to each of the themes. The seven themes also answer the three research questions. The data gathered is not intended to generalize all PWIs, underrepresented college students, and administrators.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Allen, Alaine
Commitee: Allen, Alaine, DeAngelo, Linda, Gunzenhauser, Michael G.
School: University of Pittsburgh
Department: Higher Education Management
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 80/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher Education Administration, Educational leadership, Higher education
Keywords: Administrations of color, Critical race theory, Institutional barriers, Predominantly white institutions, Underrepresented college students
Publication Number: 13872035
ISBN: 978-1-392-04257-1
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