Intended Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctorate in Management and Public Service (DMPS)


Kristen Norman, PhD

Committee Member

Craig Waldron, DPA

Second Committee Member

Brett Devine, PhD


In the United States of America, students of color (SOCs) encounter significant barriers when they seek higher education. As a result, many institutions of higher learning pursue diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives to enhance these students’ chances at social and academic attainment. For community colleges across the nation, because they enroll a disproportionately large number of SOCs due to their combination of open enrollment policies, low tuition and geographic proximity, targeted DEI initiatives are a strategy of choice in dealing with their abysmal retention and graduation rates among this student demographic. This dissertation, anchored in sociological-based theoretical frameworks—specifically William G. Spady’s Undergraduate Dropout Process Model and Vincent Tinto’s Institutional Departure Model, explores the relationship between targeted diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives at two Minnesota Community Colleges and their SOCs propensity to reenroll in school and to graduate from their academic programs in prescribed time.

The dissertation utilizes the mixed methods approach to collect, analyze, and interpret qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative data describing how educational personnel at ARCC and at NHCC are engaged in deliberate, targeted DEI initiatives to improve retention and graduation rates of SOCs were collected through interviews conducted to a purposively selected sample of students of color at both colleges. In addition, quantitative data was collected via a 25-Item, 5-point Likert Scale Survey administered to study participants at the two focal institutions. Additional retention and graduation rate data for SOCs were pulled from the study’s focal institutions, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and Minnesota State Performance Metrics (MnSPM) system. Pearson r Correlation tests and multiple regression analysis were performed to ascertain correlations between community colleges’ targeted DEI initiatives and the propensity for their SOCs to reenroll and to graduate from their academic programs on time.








School of Business Student Theses and Dissertations