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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)



First Advisor

Fred Muskal


Demographic changes in California have made the goal of a more culturally diverse faculty extremely important to the future of higher education. Confounding issues associated with affirmative action policy seemed to be contributing to a stalling of progress. This study sought to identify a range of conceptions and approaches used in dealing with affirmative action and to assess the work of affirmative action directors regarding their dealings with faculty and the hiring process. Value conflict and political sensitivity discovered during preliminary research led to the use of a qualitative, key-informant, semi-structured interview approach with assurances of anonymity placed in the forefront. Interviews were conducted with five affirmative action directors and ten department chairs on five California State University campuses. The data were analyzed to develop categories then re-analyzed to test emergent theory. Four ideological stages associated with the evolution of affirmative action emerged from the data. This framework is used to organize the complex issues and show that some of the problem stems from divergent conceptions of affirmative action. Also found was a significant amount of miscommunication. Affirmative action directors did not seem sufficiently aware of the common ground they shared with faculty relative to solving the diversity problem. A range of sub-issues associated with the structure and culture of a complex university are also identified. These sub-issues illustrate three things: variations of purpose between affirmative action directors and faculty; views of affirmative action directors toward faculty; and a legitimacy problem which depends on the administrative placement of affirmative action directors, their administrative style and their credibility with faculty. The four stage framework helps to show that while faculty appear to be reconceptualizing quality to meet the diverse cultural needs of a drastically changing student clientele, affirmative action policy adjustments are failing to keep pace. For the purpose of minimizing conflict and streamlining transition, recommendations include changes in affirmative action directors' jobs. Also recommended is: use of the framework to study other universities; and alternation of the type of procedures used in this research with quantitative methods to refine the framework or develop others.



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