Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational Administration and Foundations: College Student Personnel Administration

Committee Chair

Stacy Otto


Students attending colleges and universities who have purposeful opportunities to interact with peers and faculty about educational matters and who are challenged with consistent encouragement report higher levels of satisfaction with their collegiate experience and have higher persistence rates than students who do not receive these opportunities (Kuh et al., 1991; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991; Schroeder & Mable, 1994). In higher education, African-American males are neither retained from admission through graduation at a rate comparable to majority students nor African-American women (AASCU, 1988; ACE, 2008; Harper, 2012). In this study I set out to determine which institutional factors influence African-American males to become more engaged with educationally purposeful activities, specifically those delivered by student affairs practitioners. Through data gathered from individual interviews and from observations in social and organizational settings with African-American male student leaders, a rich pool of data emerged. The data was organized according to the principles of grounded theory and analyzed using the constant comparative model. Critical Race Theory (CRT) serves as the theoretical lens by which the emerging themes were analyzed in order to provide a minority perspective on the experiences of the African-American male within the confines of a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) (Bell, 1980; Lawrence 1987).

The findings of this research yield insights into the lived experiences of African-American male student leaders at a PWI, specifically that the recognition from high-status African-American male peers in conjunction with a shadow system of direct mentoring from those peers is what is most likely to get non-involved men to participate in campus leadership positions. Additionally, the reason that some African-American males are perceived as high-status is found to be the visibility of certain organizations and the strong kinship ties attributed to those organizations. Finally, low pre-college involvement rates were found to be a consistent factor among the sample group and the specific group of skills which the men found to be the primary benefits of involvement are outlined and discussed.


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