This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Investigation of the Academic, Personal, Professional Experiences and Multicultural Competence of Diversity Staff in Higher Education




Abdullah, Shakeer

Type of Degree



Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


There is a gap in the research about the preparation of diversity staff and their multicultural competency. In this dissertation, I address this void by examining the academic, personal, and professional experiences and multicultural competence of the people who work in diversity services. I examine the impact of their demographics and experiences on individual multicultural competence as measured by the Multicultural Competencies for Student Affairs-Preliminary Form (MCSA-P2) created and validated by Raechele Pope and John Mueller (2000). Data were collected from 182 respondents classified as diversity staff through a web based survey using the MCSA-P2 and a demographic information form. In order to gather feedback from a wide range of respondents working at a variety of institutional types, the survey instrument was sent to diversity staff around the country who are members or are eligible to be members of the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education organization (NASPA). The survey responses were then analyzed using qualitative and quantitative methods. This study collected demographic and experiential data on diversity services staff from around the country. Some notable findings include the discovery that nearly 50% of the survey respondents were first generation college students, 66% of the respondents identified as female, and 57% identified as African American/Black. Those demographics, while insightful were not found to be significant in determining multicultural competency. Level of education and graduate field of study proved to be significant in multicultural competence measures for diversity services staff. In addition to multicultural competence and demographic data, this study also qualitatively examined the professional experiences of diversity service staff and found some successes and challenges for the field. These findings may have implications for higher education graduate programs, curriculum and professional development. This research may help higher education programs expand their offerings of courses on diversity and higher education. This research may also assist diversity services offices in hiring people who are prepared to serve diverse student populations. Finally, this research may provide a blueprint for professional development opportunities for diversity services staff.