Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2009


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Rodney Hopson

Committee Member

Lisa Lopez Levers

Committee Member

George Yancy

Committee Member

Rex Crawley


Student Affairs, African American, Male, Administrators


Despite past efforts to address the racial disparities that exist in the higher education workforce, African American male Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAOs) are dramatically underrepresented at predominately White institutions of higher education (PWIs). The lived experiences of this unique group of African Americans have been ignored in the empirical literature. The main research question that guided this study was the following: How does the intersection of race and gender influence the experiences of African American male SSAOs at PWIs? A particular focus of this research was to gain a better understanding of how African American male SSAOs experience and respond to racism at PWIs.

The two theoretical lenses utilized in this dissertation were Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Van Manen's lifeworld existentials. CRT offers a strong conceptual framework upon which to assign meaning and practical application to the research findings pertaining to the experiences of African American male SSAOs at PWIs. Van Manen (1990) holds that the existential themes of lived space, lived body, lived time, and lived human relation pervade the life experiences of all human beings. This dissertation was a qualitative, collective case study that utilized personal documents, archival records, and in-depth interviews. A criterion-based sample of 10 SSAOs participated in this research study.

The participants provided thick descriptions of their experiences at PWIs throughout their career. The data was constantly analyzed to inform data collection decisions and recurring themes. ATLAS.ti was utilized as the primary analytical tool. ATLAS.ti is a computer assisted qualitative data analysis software program that utilizes a grounded theory approach to code, display, and systematically analyze for thematic patterns across cases. The themes that emerged as a result of the analysis are as follows: (1) Mobile Professionals, (2) Black Man's Burden, (3) Love for the work, (4) Racial Microaggressions, (5) Blocking of Black Male Bodies, (6) Cognitive-Time Responses and (7) Increasing Personal and Academic Capital. This study is unique in that it gives voice to the lived experiences of African American male SSAOs and provides several practical implications for African American males who are aspiring SSAOs.