Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership


Williams, Frankie K

Committee Member

Warner , Cheryl

Committee Member

Grimes , Lawrence

Committee Member

Flowers , Lamont

Committee Member

Cawthon , Tony


This study examined the Chief Student Affairs Officer's (CSAO) role in addressing incidents of racial insensitivity on college and university campuses. The research methodology used for the study was a qualitative research design. Utilizing the collective case study method, within-case and cross-case analyses were completed for the study. Data were collected from eleven CSAOs at public institutions through their participation in telephone interviews.
Five major themes emerged from the study. First, the CSAO
must be multiculturally competent in order to address a variety of incidents of racial insensitivity. Second, the CSAO must understand the law and legal precedents regarding the right to free speech and expression. Third, the CSAO must be able to facilitate difficult dialogue among opposing groups. Fourth, the CSAO must collaborate with other professional staff to address incidents of racial insensitivity. Finally, the CSAO along with other campus administrators, should develop policies and procedures which facilitate the creation of a harmonious campus climate.
The theoretical framework that guided the study was the dynamic model of student affairs competence. The study revealed that incidents of racial insensitivity created opportunities for CSAOs to raise their level of multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skill, thus enabling the CSAOs to be more effective in providing diversity leadership. The recommendations for CSAOs and other administrators who desire to be more effective in addressing racially insensitive issues were presented in four areas: policy, training, leadership, and practice. The study concluded with suggestions for future research.