First Advisor

Heather Burns

Term of Graduation

Summer 2023

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Postsecondary Education


Educational Leadership and Policy




Community Colleges, Employee Recruitment, Employee Retention, Grounded Theory, Racial Staff Diversity



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 224 pages)


This dissertation examines the troubling underrepresentation of staff of color in Pacific Northwest community colleges. Despite the proven benefits of racial staff diversity in promoting student success, community colleges face challenges in recruiting and retaining staff of color. Existing literature concerning non-teaching staff at community colleges is limited. This study adds to the existing literature by investigating the experiences and perceptions of staff of color in Pacific Northwest community colleges to identify effective strategies for increasing racial staff diversity.

This study used a constructivist grounded theory approach in a comprehensive data collection process involving surveys, individual and focus group interviews, and memo writing. The rigorous data analysis process identified four primary themes as critical factors for staff of color retention: organizational culture and leadership, cultural competence and belonging, community and support, and professional growth and equitable practice.

These findings are the foundation for the emergent theoretical framework, the "Double Dutch Retention," which offers strategies for increasing racial staff diversity at Pacific Northwest community colleges. While the study focuses on Pacific Northwest community college staff of color, its insights shed light on the performative nature of diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments in higher education.


© 2023 Dominique S. Austin

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