Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Learning, Leadership and Change

First Advisor

Sharla Berry

First Committee Member

Rod P. Githens

Second Committee Member

Linda Skrla

Third Committee Member

Antonio Serna


Underrepresentation of faculty of color in higher education is a phenomenon that has been studied and well documented by researchers for many years (e.g., Aguirre, 2000; Aguirre, Martinez, & Hernandez, 1993; Bair, Bair, Mader, Hipp, & Hakim, 2010; Chai et al., 2009; Collins, 1990; Turner & Myers, 2000). This issue is even more evident as it relates to the underrepresentation of African American faculty at predominantly White institutions (PWIs). Many studies have addressed the underrepresentation of African American faculty at PWIs (e.g., Alexander & Moore, 2008; Bower, 2002; Brown & Dancy, 2010; Cleveland, 2004).

According to the United States Department of Commerce, Economic and Statistics Administration, United States Bureau of the Census (2016), African Americans represent 13.3% of the United States total population. However, African American faculty account for 6% of full-time faculty in higher learning institutions in the United States according to the 2016 release of the National Center for Education Statistics. This disparity forms the essential component of my investigation and sets the stage for my examination of the experiences of African Americans as they perform their duties as full-time faculty at PWIs.

This study takes a new approach to investigating the low number of African Americans serving as full-time faculty in higher education by examining their perceptions of the intercultural competence of their colleagues on campus based on their experiences. Intercultural competence is the ability to proficiently interact with people from different backgrounds using acquired knowledge and experience (Elosúa, 2015). Intercultural competence has been studied in a number of areas including business, government, healthcare, military, and religion (e.g., Bennett, Bennett, & Allen, 2003; Benkert, Tanner, Guthrie, Oakley, & Phol, 2005; Berry, Phinney, Sam, & Vedder, 2006; Deardorff, 2009). There has also been research on intercultural competence in education regarding students studying abroad in other countries, teaching in different cultures, and global citizenship (e.g., Banks, 2017; Byram & Nichols, 1997; Deardorff, 2009). However, my review of the literature indicates that there has not been research about the impact that intercultural competence has on the underrepresentation of African American faculty at PWIs in post-secondary education. This is a qualitative multiple case study that engaged full-time African American educational leadership faculty who were employed at PWIs in post-secondary education as participants. The data were collected through interviews. The collected data were analyzed and the findings used to make recommendations to improve the experiences of African American educational leadership faculty at PWIs in post-secondary education.





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