Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational Administration and Foundations: Educational Administration

Committee Chair

Dianne Gardner-Renn


This research study explored the strategies six Black women academic deans used to sustain themselves at historically white institutions (HWIs). The theoretical framework used to understand the women’s experiences included Critical Race Feminism (CRF) and Crenshaw’s intersectionality (1989). The purpose of this study was to understand these experiences to advance the conceptual understanding of sustaining in white spaces. This is a qualitative study that used narrative inquiry and provided a space for Black women academic deans to share their experiences. Four themes emerged from the interviews of the academic deans: (a) barriers, (b) unreasonable expectations, (c) self-origination, and (d) support systems. From these themes, strategies of sustaining were developed. Black women’s support systems self-care, work-life balance, and the values developed during their upbringing were all used as ways they sustained. These strategies helped Black women academic deans survive in the academy while also combatting oppression. Black women’s ability to sustain in spaces not created for them to succeed is inspiring. This study contributes to the literature concerning Black women academic deans and how they navigate the academy and succeed in their roles at HWIs.KEYWORDS: critical race feminism, intersectionality, sustain, Black women academic dean


Page Count