Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

James Therrell, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Michael Self, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Floralba A. Marrero, Ed.D.


Private Christian universities with predominantly Caucasian student bodies have historically faced difficulty when attempting to become more diverse. Often these colleges’ student populations have mimicked that of the founding parent church, although many desire to broaden the student ethnic background. The purpose of this qualitative single case study research was to examine the impacts of mentoring by professional, full-time, university employees on African American students’ social connections. Positive, social connections improve student retention and satisfaction. This study was conducted at a single Christian PWI university in the Midwest. Data included personal interviews and a combined focus group with four African American students, a focus group of five mentors, and key documents. The three main themes identified include that the mentee was able to build a significant relationship with his/her mentor, the process reduced student isolation, and students grew in their campus involvement. In each of these major themes, three additional subthemes add depth regarding the students’ growth in their social connections. The outcomes of this study support the need for future research to investigate the importance and validity of Christian PWI universities in the support of African American students, as well as those from other ethnic backgrounds. Programs intended to promote meaningful social connections with mentors, peers, teachers, and the campus as a whole as means to increase retention and diversity among those student populations are a valuable means of support.

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