Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Dinkins


Enrollment of students of color (SOC) in higher education has called on student affairs professionals to design and implement programs and policies focused on diversity and inclusion (Mueller & Pope, 2000, 2003; Ellertson, Moore, & Marsh, 2007; Pope, Mueller, & Reynolds, 2009). White student affairs professionals need to develop cultural competencies about race to aid the development of students of color at Predominantly White Institutions (PWI) (Mueller & Pope, 2001). Book clubs are one way to gather and converse about race and identity (Polleck & Epstein, 2015). The White Racial Identity Development theory (WRID) is a way to bring awareness about race and racism to White people so they learn to accept their Whiteness as part of their identity and consider what it means to be White (Helms, 1990). The purpose of this study is to understand the experiences of White student affairs professionals engaged in difficult dialogue (Sue & Constantine, 2007) on race through the forum of a book club.

Data collection focused White student affairs professionals at a Midwest university during the form of s book club, participants’ understanding of the text, their self-described location on the WRID continuum, and their perceptions of the experiences of SOC. Observations, pre- and post-interviews, journal entries, and pre- and post- responses to the White Racial Identity Attitude Scale were used to collect and analyze data. Findings yielded eight themes that speak to participants’ increased self-awareness of racial identities, perspectives gained through the experience of the text, and nuanced understanding about the lived experiences of SOC.