Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. Donald Mitchell Jr.

Second Advisor

Dr. Leslie Maxie

Third Advisor

Dr. Dawn Hall-Bibb



This qualitative study explores the lived experiences of senior-level Black women student affairs administrators at four-year degree granting institutions. Moreover, this study documents Black women in nonfaculty administrative roles in student affairs at both predominately White institutions (PWIs) and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). A multiple case study research design was used to investigate this phenomenon. Two frameworks were used to ground the study: Black feminist thought and representational bureaucracy. The following questions guided it: (1) What are the work experiences of Black women in senior leadership positions in student affairs? (2) What barriers/issues to obtaining senior leadership positions in student affairs are identified by Black women? (3) What do Black women senior student affairs leaders attribute to their success? (4) What recommendations and/or strategies do Black women senior leaders suggest to improve the leadership pipeline in student affairs as it relates to other Black women obtaining such roles? Participants included five vice presidents of student affairs representing three PWIs and two HBCUs. Five central themes emerged as a result of the semi-structured interviews: (1) I Have a Right to Be Here; (2) Overt and Subtle Obstacles, -Isms et al.; (3) Creating Social Capital; (4) No Straight Line to the Top; and (5) I’m thinking about the Black girls coming behind me. The study concludes with a discussion of the findings, implications for practice, and recommendations for ongoing research.