Date of Award

Spring 6-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Ronald Chennault

Second Advisor

Dr. Karen Monkman

Third Advisor

Dr. Ryan Smith


African-American students are enrolling in four-year universities and community colleges in the hope of receiving a degree; however, their rate of degree attainment at the latter institutions in particular continues to be troubling. Although community colleges are making efforts to improve the graduation rates of African-American students, more institutional strategies are needed to address this concern. The purpose of the study was to explore how the role of African-American faculty and staff can affect the success of African-American students in a community college setting. The researcher investigated African-American students’ perceptions and experiences regarding how African-American faculty and staff members have influenced them to continue their education. Using a phenomenological research method, the researcher listened to the stories of seven African-American students regarding how their interactions with African-American faculty and staff members encouraged them to persist in college. The themes that emerged included (1) race and shared experiences matter; (2) the role of surrogate parents; (3) “a place like home”; (4) interpersonal communicative connection; (5) the importance of role models and visualizing success; and (6) interactions provide motivation. African-American faculty/staff-student interactions were viewed as essential to supporting the student participants’ academic and personal goals as community college students.