Date of Award

12-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Major

Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

E. Grady Bogue

Committee Members

Norma T. Mertz, Steven Waller, Vincent Anfara

Abstract

ABSTRACT

Despite their long-standing history and contribution to the success of Black students at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs), many Black Cultural Centers (BCCs) face uncertain futures, and others do not. Some BCCs have closed, some have been transformed in name and mission, and some have persevered and have become "exemplar" centers. These exemplary centers have been expanded and given more responsibility and resources by their institutions, and are clearly not feeling a threat to their identity or future. In a time when so many BCCs at PWIs are under threat, what is it about some centers that allows them to survive and thrive? What differentiates them from those that are imperiled by threats to their existence? Using a multi-site case study approach, the purpose of this study was to discern the factors that characterize exemplary BCCs at two PWIs.

For this study data were collected using the following strategies: individual semi-structured interviews, field notes, document analysis, and observations. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 faculty, staff, alumni, and students across two unique campus settings. The study examined the characteristics of exemplary BCCs individually and across campuses.

Through data cross analysis six central themes emerged that depicted the shared factors that mark exemplary BCCs at PWIs. These included: a). Leadership & Legacy Make the Difference b). Building Campus Connections at All Levels; c). Remaining Relevant and Advancing the Institution; d). Community Engagement and Collaboration; e). Student Ownership and a “Call to Action”; and f). Alumni Engagement and Involvement. Institutionalization, the theoretical framework, was also found to be a factor common to exemplary centers, but it is manifested in different ways depending on the campus.

Key findings indicated that exemplary BCCs are a major part of the university fabric and play a significant role in the Black undergraduate student experience. These findings are crucial to future research pertaining to BCCs. Administrators, BCC staff, faculty and students at other campuses with BCCs can gain a greater understanding of how BCCs impact PWIs. This study can also be viewed as a foundational tool for establishing, improving and continuing the tradition of BCCs at PWIs.

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