Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Susan T. Gooden

Second Advisor

Kevin W. Allison

Third Advisor

Patricia H. Grant

Fourth Advisor

Nancy B. Stutts


Equity is an American ideal, one that is considered the cornerstone to good governance (Gooden, 2011). Achieving equity requires the eradication of racial disparities in opportunities and outcomes, particularly in education. Creating equitable educational experiences at community colleges is the focus of this research.

The purpose of study is to examine the issue of social equity within community colleges in an effort to understand: (1) their efforts to promote student success through equity; (2) their commitment to social equity; and (3) the institutional change that is necessary to create an institutional culture that values social equity and is accountable for equitable student outcomes. Social equity is intrinsic for the promotion of student success within community colleges.

The primary findings of this study are the:

  • Leadership at the president and senior administrator level is necessary for the conceptualization and communication of an institutional vision of equity.

  • Once leadership direction and commitment has been established, broad engagement across the institution is necessary for implementation of institutional changes needed to achieve equity.

  • Improving student success was defined as the means for achieving equity by Round 1 Achieving the Dream colleges.

  • It is vitally important to have the institutional research capacity that allows for analysis of student progression data, examination of achievement gaps through the disaggregation of student outcome data, evaluation of efforts implemented to improve equitable student outcomes and the overall culture of data informed decision making.

  • Round 1 Achieving the Dream colleges are more comfortable with the “lift all boats” approach to student success versus a targeted approach based on data disaggregation and achievement gaps.

To implement equity, it is important for community colleges to respond to outcome disparities on an institutional level by committing to the goal of equity. This study shows that recognizing inequity is the first step toward achieving equity. The pursuit of social equity within our public institutions and those that they serve is imperative to a nation that values democratic ideal of equality.


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