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The recruitment and retention of ethnic minority students lies at the core of diversity efforts instituted by colleges and universities in the U.S. Withstanding the changing racial demographics of the U.S. and the need to have qualified ethnic minority professionals serving diverse communities, retention and matriculation heighten in importance. With the recruitment and retention challenge that many predominately White institutions (PWI’s) face in mind, this study aimed to understand how “social connectedness” related to retaining African-American students in a hospitality management program. Focus groups were utilized to chronicle the lived experience of African-American students. The findings suggest that the following factors play an important role in the retention of African American students: (1) being connected to the program, university community, and other ethnic minority students; (2) the depth and quality of relationships with faculty.

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