Date of Award

January 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Research

First Advisor

Cheryl Hunter


At the same time as the racial and ethnic demographics of the United States have seen an increased change over the past decades, institutions of higher education have experienced an increase in the percentage of minority students. The majority of minority students attend Predominantly White Institutions where they have fewer peers and faculty with similar backgrounds as compared to students who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities. We know that there are tremendous benefits of higher education, such as fewer health problems, longer life expectancy, better economic well-being, and higher likelihood of being employed. As the value of having a college degree increases, minority students are less likely than their White peers to graduate from college, which makes it important to understand their experiences in higher education. The aim of this study is to explore how racial minority students experience campus climates when attending Predominantly White Institutions. This research provides a qualitative analysis of the campus climate at a PWI in the Midwest. The study explores the experiences of racial minority students using a narrative approach, which allows us to hear the stories as told by the students, a voice that is often left out in the dominant discourse surrounding PWIs. Stories from students identifying as Asian American, Black, Latina/o, and Native American highlighted a range of experiences of the campus climate, university setting, and community environment. Some of their experiences included being met with racism on campus, bias from community members and peers, support from student organizations, and mentoring opportunities from professors. The stories forms suggestions for change and new policies that Predominantly White Institutions across the country can benefit from.