Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Administration

First Advisor

Donahoo, Saran


The current and growing shortage of student affairs administrators is a growing concern among colleges and universities within the United States, and raising awareness and recruitment within the profession are recognized national priorities (NASPA, 2012). The growth and sustainability of the student affairs profession is largely dependent on the ability to recruit the next generation of administrators. However, there is not a clear understanding of the experiences that influence student affairs administrators' decision to choose student affairs as a career. The purpose of this study is to examine the experiences (personal, professional, social) that influenced African American student affairs administrators at public, four-year, predominantly White institutions decision to pursue student affairs as a career. Further, this study investigates the association between these experiences and anticipatory socialization. The concept of early professional socialization or anticipatory socialization is the first step that takes place in the socialization process and occurs prior to entry into an organization. I argue that African American student affairs administrators are imperative to the student affairs profession because they play an instrumental role in the development of African American college students, as well diversifying the field of student affairs as a whole. This diversity enhances the educational experience for both minority and majority students. Therefore, it is imperative that student affairs administrators continue to encourage and recruit more African Americans to the field, by building a pipeline of future student affairs professionals. This qualitative study examines the previous experiences and backgrounds of African American student affairs administrators. Focusing on professionals working at four-year, predominantly White institutions (PWIs), this study seeks to learn about the personal, professional, and social experiences that led participating staff members to pursue work in the area of student affairs. The central focus of this study is to examine and understand how African American student affairs administrators come to choose their profession, and ways in which current African American student affairs administrators may recruit and encourage students to enter into the student affairs profession. Socialization is the process by which an individual learn the necessary attitudes, skills, and behaviors in order to fulfill professional roles organization (Merton, 1957; Tierney, 1997; Van Maanen & Schein, 1979). Socialization theory frames this study and provides a framework for analyzing my research problem in light of understanding how minority student affairs professionals may apply the socialization process in order to recruit and influence African American students to pursue careers in the student affairs profession. I hope that the significance of my findings will assist current African American student affairs administrators in gaining a better understanding of how these experiences impact the decision of African Americans to pursue careers in student affairs, so that they can better recruit more African American students into the field.




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