Date of Award

3-2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Degree Program

Global Leadership - with a specialization in Education

Department

College of Education

First Advisor

Joan Scialli

Second Advisor

Carole Warshaw

Third Advisor

Dennis P. Gallon

Abstract

America's predominantly white institutions (PWIs) of higher education were built, developed and thrived within the social hierarchy of the American society. It was only after many political, legal, and legislative battles that the doors to America's PWIs of higher education were forced open to admit the African-American student. Today, PWIs of higher education are seeking diversity in their student body, faculty and staff.

The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was (a) to gain insight into the factors influencing African-American administrators to select a career in higher education and choose employment at a PWI, (b) to discover the similarities and differences in factors influencing the career decisions of African Americans at PWIs based on whether they attended a historically black college and universities (HBCU) or predominantly white institution (PWI); (c) to discover the factors affecting the career decisions of African-American administrators in mid-level administrative positions regarding advancement to executive-level positions and the under-representation of African-American administrators in PWIs of higher education; and (d) to examine whether white supremacy emerges as a factor influencing the career decisions of African-American administrators in mid-level administrative positions at PWIs of higher education.

The cross-case and within-case analysis revealed that while all five participants, employed at a Florida Doctoral/Research University-Extensive, attended a PWI of higher education, the undergraduate institution was an influencing factor in the participant's decision to enter a career in higher education. The qualifications needed to advance to an executive-level position are the terminal degree, the appropriate skills, the right training, and the necessary experience.

The participants in this study believe that most PWIs of higher education are not prepared to accept African-Americans in executive-level positions, and aspects of white supremacy did emerge as a factor influencing career advancement. For African-American administrators to advance to executive-level positions the participants said a climate that is receptive, open to diversity, open to different modes of thinking, and different modes of reaching conclusions were important. This study should be replicated using a larger sample and include different types of institutions of higher education to allow multiple comparisons of within-case and cross-case analysis analyses between positions and institutions.

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