Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Michael Wischnowski, Ph.D.

Second Supervisor

Gloria Morgan, Ed.D.


The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to identify the social, institutional, and academic factors African American males and community college staff perceive are required for student retention. Spencer’s functionalism theory framed the study. Spencer argued that as the various organs work together in keeping the human body healthy, so can the multiple departments of an organization work together to care for the needs of its member citizens. The prism of the functionalism theory is that departments working cohesively and cooperatively within an organization better the social, institutional, and economic outcomes of the citizens. A total of five African American males and six community college staff members from two community colleges in the Northeast US participated in this study. Student participants ranged from ages 18 to 24 and entered their second year of community college. Research during the last decade shows that while African American males enroll at community colleges, they are not graduating at the rate of other racial/ethnic gender groups. In addition to the low graduation rates, the high dropout levels diminish these men’s representation at community colleges. Political and educational leaders demand that community colleges retain the men for graduation completion to supply the U.S. economy with degree-bearing African American males. The findings show that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, African American male students benefited from the collaboration and cohesiveness of departments to provide resources vital to the males’ retention to progress past their first year.

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