Faculty Perspectives on Diversity and Inclusion at a Highly Diverse Institution: A Study of Organizational Culture

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Virginia Tech


U.S. demographic shifts are not being reflected in higher education institutions (U.S. Census Bureau, n.d.; U.S. Department of Education, 2013). While institutions recruit underrepresented students and faculty, retention of these populations continues to be an issue in part due to a lack of sense of belonging (Booker, 2007; Hurtado and Carter, 1997), poor institutional climate (Hurtado, Alvarez, Guillermo-Wann, Cuellar, and Arellano, 2012; Rhee, 2008), and institutional racism (Stanley, 2006). Organizational culture theory offers a lens to examine the underlying structural problems preventing organizations from permanently adopting diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout the institution.

This qualitative study examines how faculty members describe organizational culture of diversity and inclusion at a research university with a high degree of student diversity. The conceptual framework was Schein's (2010) organizational culture model. Participants included 19 faculty members who identified as Caucasian/White, African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, or Asian/Pacific Islander. Of all participants, 12 were male and seven female.

In-person interviews were conducted to gather data. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method. Five themes emerged: forming culture, describing diversity and inclusion within the culture, learning impacted by diversity, feeling the culture, and directing culture. Unique findings from this study reveal that participants believed there is a shifting organizational culture of diversity and inclusion at the selected institution due to newly acquired designations, causing redefinition of existing assumptions. Additionally, faculty members (a) held different definitions for diversity and inclusion, which affected how they understood the university's responsibilities; (b) relied on localized diversity initiatives over university-wide ones; (c) believed in the unique needs of a highly diverse student body; and (d) were concerned with gaining diversity and inclusion at all ranks of the institution. Findings suggest that faculty at this institution viewed the organizational culture of diversity and inclusion to be welcoming for students. However, participants' perspectives were mixed about this same culture being welcoming to all faculty members. The study has implications for administrators and faculty members seeking to create more diverse and inclusive organizational cultures. Findings also have implications for future research on organizational culture, faculty, diversity, and inclusion.



Education, Higher, organizational culture, faculty, diversity, inclusion