Title page for ETD etd-01232012-151056

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Dochterman, Mark A
URN etd-01232012-151056
Title An Exploratory Case Study of Racial Climate in an Academic Unit at a Predominantly White, Southern Institution
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Educational Theory, Policy, & Practice
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
MacGregor, S Kim Committee Chair
Bourke, Brian D Committee Member
Cheek, Earl H Committee Member
Mitchell, Roland W Committee Member
Bowman, Ruth L Dean's Representative
  • higher education
  • race
  • senior college
Date of Defense 2011-12-07
Availability unrestricted
Research describes faculty of color as a key to an equitable future for higher education. However, this approach problematically places the responsibility for multiculturalism on the shoulders of these individuals. This embedded, critical case study explored the racial climate of an academic unit in a southern, predominantly white institution. Through the lens of critical race theory I examined how the racial climate of the unit impacted the perceptions, roles, and relationships differently for faculty of color, doctoral students of color, white faculty, and white doctoral students and how the case in question exemplified Rankin and Reasonís (2008) six dimensions of campus climate within the Transformational Tapestry Model (TTM).

Data collection included twenty one-hour individual interviews with doctoral students, faculty, and administrators. This interview data was supplemented with a participant observation of a focus group interview, participant observation in a Diversity Team meeting, document analysis of the unitís five-year diversity plan, course syllabi, learning outcomes, and publications of the unit.

The perceptions, roles and relationships within the unit were found to vary distinctly between white faculty, faculty of color as well as white students, and students of color. Specifically, the coalescence between the academic and social experiences within the unit exacerbated the formation of an in-groups and out-groups. This in turn impacted the academic experiences of the participants.

When compared to the TTM, findings from this study supported the existence of the six dimensions of climate within the unit but suggests that 1) these dimensions were expressed differently by the academic unit than they at the campus-wide level and 2) the relationships between the six dimensions in the academic unit diverged from those found in the original TTM.

Findings from this study have implications for the symbolic, fiscal, educational and administrative actions of academic units seeking to improve their racial climate. Future areas of research should consider further adapting the TTM to fit an academic unit, the impact of structural diversity within tenure and promotion committees on the tenure and promotion of faculty of color, the potential link between social identity and racial identity within a unit.

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