Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Shawn Woodhouse, PhD


Matthew Davis, PhD

Thomasina Hassler, PhD

Michael Porterfield, PhD



How faculty allocate their time among research, teaching, and service, and the perceived quality of that work determines whether faculty obtain tenure or are released from the university (Bellas & Toutkoushian, 1999; Link, Swann, & Bozeman, 2008; Price & Cotten, 2006). Prior research indicated that African-American faculty comprised 4.5% of the faculty at high-activity research institutions and 3.5% of faculty at very-high-activity research institutions (The Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac 2016-2017, 2016).

The purpose of this study was to 1) document African-American faculty experiences during their tenure probationary period at PWI research institutions; 2) compare faculty experiences during the pursuit of tenure by race; 3) identify behavior that can detract from and contribute to success in promotion and tenure at PWI research institutions (information can be utilized for the benefit of all faculty as well as administration); 4) evaluate whether African-American faculty perceive any differences in their experiences when compared to the experiences of Caucasian faculty; and 5) to identify which factors, such as mentoring, may contribute to the success of African-American faculty who have obtained tenure. Accordingly, upon analysis of the pre-existing research, the researcher attempted to ascertain whether African-American faculty felt disenfranchised or belittled during the tenure process. Finally, the study attempted to provide potential reasons that African-American faculty may not obtain tenure and whether the difference in the African-American faculty experience during the tenure process exposed them to unusually burdensome situations in comparison to their Caucasianpeers.

The study involved 85 full-time higher education faculty. Faculty were anonymously surveyed and five African-American faculty members were interviewed. Enlightenment on what it takes to be successful at PWI research institutions is necessary to maintain and increase the number of African-American faculty in the academy. If the majority of full-time faculty remain Caucasian and male, the opportunity for diverse perspectives and points of view diminishes. People from different backgrounds and cultures bring forth different ways of viewing their environment and the world. This openness of thought and expression is a tenet of academic freedom (American Association of University Professors, n.d.a).

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