Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership - Higher Education

Committee Member

Natasha N. Croom

Committee Member

Robin J. Phelps-Ward

Committee Member

Rachel Wagner

Committee Member

Nafees Khan


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to reflect upon one vitally important, but widely unexamined, aspect of Historically Black Theological Institutions (HBTIs): the experiences of its Black presidents and their use of critical spirituality (Dantley, 2005) to overcome personal and professional obstacles, challenge assumptions of institutional inferiority and deficiency, and engage in the struggle for physical and psychological freedom for HBTI constituents and the communities they serve. Three current or former HBTI presidents, all self-identified as Black men, were represented in this study. An interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) methodology and its ensuing research methods guided the study’s scope. A priori coding was utilized from Dantley’s (2005) critical spirituality framework and Bridges’ (2001) African American spirituality framework to analyze HBTI presidents’ experiences. The data collected and analyzed served to answer the foundational question of this study: How do Black presidents engage critical spirituality in their leadership of HBTIs?



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