Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2015


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Professional Doctorate in Educational Leadership (ProDEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

AnnMarie Fitzgerald

Committee Member

Amy Olson

Committee Member

Sherry Miller Brown

Committee Member

Rick McCown


Community college, African-American, Faculty-student engagement


Despite progress in access to colleges and student support services, African American students maintain a low community college completion rate, relative to their enrollment. Using critical race theory as a theoretical framework, this quantitative study utilized the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) instrument to explore group differences between African American and White American, first-time students enrolled in Vernell-Paul Jacob Community College (a pseudonym). The study examined students' perceptions as it relates to how the college prepares them to understand and engage with people of diverse backgrounds and their engagement with faculty. Overall, African American, first-time students reported higher levels of engagement with faculty and diverse cross-racial interactions compared to their White American, first-time counterparts. Where student responses indicated a median difference, the responses were not in direct opposition to each other; rather, most responses were only incrementally different—usually being within one point on Likert-like scales. These findings allowed for the identification of variables that may serve as challenges to program completion and attainment of a certificate or associate degree among African-American, first-time students. As a result, this study began cross-departmental conversations and suggested changes to collegiate practice, process, and service that will serve to engage and empower students—specifically those who are underserved and marginalized—and faculty.