Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. Mike Vetter

Second Advisor

Dr. Donald Mitchell Jr.

Third Advisor

Dr. Laura Smith


As college campuses become increasingly diverse, the need for multicultural awareness among faculty and staff has become a critical component of student success. Though rising diversity among students promotes a rich and more robust learning environment (Gurin, 1999; Gurin, Dey, Hurtado, & Gurin, 2002; Hurtado, 2007; Sleeter & Grant, 1994) and correlates with various positive educational outcomes (Hu & Kuh, 2003; Umback & Kuh, 2006), student affairs and higher education professionals may be ineffective when managing and responding to diversity. For faculty and staff within community college settings, the need for multicultural awareness, including awareness of privilege and bias, is significant as the student populations at these institutions are diverse in age, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class. The objective of this dissertation is to examine the way student affairs practitioners—specifically academic advisors—understand how their own privileges and biases inform their interactions with students as well as the strategies these advisors utilize to practice culturally competent advising practices.

This qualitative case study is informed by a number of theoretical concepts including multicultural competence for counseling psychology, implicit bias and privilege, advising, and student success and retention. Four participants were selected from a mid-sized community college situated in the Southeastern region of the United States. Seven themes emerged from the study and are presented in the findings. The themes signify the importance of an advisor’s lived experience, including personal biases and beliefs, in their advising interactions with students as well as the strategies they utilize to inform culturally competent advising such as relationship building, seeing students as individuals, and transformation through shared stories.