Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership


The climate of a college or university had been identified as a critical factor in the success and/or failure of minority students. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to identify the campus racial climate as perceived by American Indian students attending the University of North Dakota (UND) at Grand Forks, North Dakota. American Indian students have been present on the UND campus since 1934. Over the years, their numbers have steadily increased, but their attrition rate has remained high.

In the spring semester of 1994, data were gathered using two survey instruments which were personally administered by the researcher to 154 (approximately 50% of the total number) American Indian students enrolled at UND.

There were few significant differences between ffeshmen/sophomores and juniors/seniors, undergraduate and graduate/professional students, male and female students, or American Indian students from North Dakota tribes and those from other tribes in their perceptions of the racial climate at UND. The responses from the majority of American Indian students led to the following conclusions. UND faculty treat American Indian students as if they belong at UND and have graded them fairly. Interactions with UND administrators have been positive, but UND administrators, faculty, and staff are not knowledgeable about racial and ethnic differences and similarities. There is a lack of communication among students of different ethnic groups, and the American Indian experience differs gready from that of the non-Indian student at UND. More special programs for American Indian students to increase their enrollment and retention, to make them feel more comfortable at UND, to sensitize UND personnel and students to racial issues are needed at UND. More courses with multicultural perspectives are needed at UND, and UND students should be required to take one ethnic course. There is a need for greater interaction between American Indian student organizations and other student organizations at UND, and American Indian students are not adequately represented in extracurricular activities and organizations on campus. Racial problems are visible on the UND campus but are not given high priority. American Indian students rated the UND climate as tending toward being insensitive, reserved, worsening, racist, and hostile but were more neutral on the adjectives socially separated, competitive, indifferent, exclusive, and tense. Significant differences that occurred among the groups indicated that the older-than-average American Indian students had more negative perceptions of the climate at UND than did traditional college-age students.