Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Education Theory and Practice


Curriculum and Instruction

Content Description

1 online resource (xi, 180 pages) : PDF file, chart

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Abbe Herzig

Committee Members

Robert Yagelski, Marcia Sutherland


African American, Higher Education, Listening Guide, Psychological Sense of Community, White Institutional Presence, Whiteness, African Americans, Whites, Race relations

Subject Categories

Ethnic Studies | Higher Education


This dissertation purports to offer a new lens on the retention puzzle of African-Americans in Predominately White Institutions. The purpose of this paper is to notice the properties of a PWI and analyzes the relational context these properties create for its African-American undergraduates. This dissertation is formatted into two sections. The first section frames, examines, and theorizes the "racism effect" in higher education - the "ways in which race and racism explicitly and implicitly impact on the educational structures, processes, and discourses that affect people of color" (LatCrit Primer, 2000, p. xx). I maintain that African-Americans' experiences of marginalization and discrimination in a predominately white chilly climate are outward manifestations of a socio-cultural framework I call White Institutional Presence (WIP). To identify an institution's structures, policies, and practices that can marginalize and oppress African-Americans in higher education and develop the attributes of WIP, I used existing empirical data in higher education retention and persistence literature. This paper offers and expands four attributes of WIP: White Ascendancy, Monoculturalism, White Blindness, and White Estrangement.