The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of institutional structures on retention of nontraditional students at private, historically White, four-year liberal arts colleges in the northern portion of a Middle Atlantic state. Content analysis of the public rhetoric of websites and documents examined leadership commitment to diversity within this institutional context. The messages of these institutions, as they defined the scope of diversity and the breadth of diversity initiatives, were examined for the level of commitment of the leadership to building a multicultural campus. A cross-case exploration of supportive elements responsive to changing student needs was conducted within the context where enrollment and retention growth in nontraditional student bodies had been reported, over a five-year time span. The findings of the study support the literature suggesting the need for cross-discipline collaboration in academic offerings, service learning projects, and community engagement opportunities with people from different backgrounds. This provided learning for all community members, not just students. Literature from the field of organization development that links strategy and structure in business organizations were found to be useful for higher education. Differences in the language, the physical layouts of the campuses, and in the assessment processes found effective in higher education were identified as unique to those indicated as highly diversity competent. The study sheds light on how these highly diversity competent institutions are using multiple structures to make sense of external forces for change and responding nimbly. The recommended paradigm shifts in thinking about inclusion provide insights for transforming higher education institutional structures.
|Adviser||April Boyington Wall|
|Subjects||Cultural resources management; Higher education administration; Management; Higher education|
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