Quaring Historically Black Universities: A case study examination on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer student inclusion at two historically Black universities
Jarrel Johnson

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Iowa State University

Primary Discipline

Often viewed as sites of racial uplift, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have been celebrated for their ability to foster familial and welcoming campus environments for their students. However, limited scholarship investigating the experiences of Black queer collegians at HBCUs has exposed how these institutions have failed to extend welcoming campus environments to queer students. Empirical research on queer and trans* student inclusion has traditionally investigated the role resource centers play in promoting queer and trans* student inclusion at Historically White Institutions. These studies are important to understanding queer and trans* student inclusion in higher education, but often disregard how multiple higher education organizational structures must act as queer and trans* inclusion advocates. Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative multiple case study is to investigate and theorize how administrators and students at two public HBCUs work across several organizational structures to organize, develop, and implement queer and trans* inclusion policies, programs, and services. Drawing from organizational climate and change theories in higher education and a quare theory framework, this study describes how the HBCUs address issues of campus climate, illustrates how HBCUs facilitate organizational change, and designs inclusion initiatives attentive to Black queer and trans* students' identities. The data collection process includes interviews, focus groups, field observations, and document analysis. At the conclusion of this study, an organizational change theory model generated from the data in this study is presented. Findings from this dissertation have implications for future higher education research, policy, practice, and organizational change theory.
About Jarrel Johnson
Jarrel T. Johnson is a Ph.D. candidate and Presidential Scholar in the Division of Higher Education with a minor in women's and gender studies at Iowa State University. He holds a B.A. in English from Shaw University and M.Ed. in higher education leadership from Mercer University. Previously, Jarrel served five years as a student affairs practitioner where he worked at Emory University, Cornell University, and Iowa State University in support of institutional initiatives aimed at promoting the collegiate success of underrepresented, first-generation, and/or low-socioeconomic status students. Thus, Jarrel's educational and professional experiences have informed his research agenda which contains the following strands: 1.) An exploration of students, faculty, and staff intersectional social identities (e.g. race, gender, and sexuality) and 2.) A critical examination of the role higher education institutions plays in shaping the experiences of institutional community members. His dissertation employs both strands of research interests by investigating and theorizing how two public historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) facilitate organizational change inclusive of Black queer and trans* student identities. Specifically, Jarrel's dissertation centers the perspectives of HBCU administrators and Black queer and trans* students as they work across organizational structures to organize, develop, and implement inclusion initiatives.

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