Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


Portraits of Successful African Immigrant Faculty on U.S Campuses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Kyle Ingle, Ph.D

Second Advisor

Dafina Stewart, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Mark Earley, Ph.D (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Faith Ngunjiri, Ed.D (Committee Member)


African immigrants in the U.S. are still understood according to a “melting pot” model of immigration and are expected to identify with a segment of the host society'”African Americans (Olup¿¿¿¿¿¿na & Gemignani, 2007). However, African immigrants are culturally and socially different from native-born African Americans. For example, due to colonization, African identity is mostly based on ethnicity, culture, geography and nationhood while African Americans identify primarily with or in racial terms (Appiah, 1992).

The purpose of this study is to gain insight into the experiences of African immigrant faculty members who have successfully advanced academically in the U.S. campuses as evidenced by tenure and promotion, and to understand the extent to which African faculty members are aware of how their “African-ness” has contributed to their success in American campuses. It is important to contextualize the experiences of the study's participants to gain an understanding of where their individual narratives fit within the broader landscape of diversity, multiculturalism and inclusiveness in American campuses. This study uses portraiture methodology, a qualitative approach that concentrates on unearthing goodness and highlighting successes, while recognizing that imperfections will always be present within a social system. A conceptual framework of three interrelated constructs-- African spirituality, resilience, and acculturation--understood within the context of African immigrant faculty experiences was used as an analytical lens.

The findings from this study may be used as a template to demonstrate the avenues to success for immigrant faculty, which would help in recruiting and retaining African immigrant faculty. The findings can also aid as a means of educating students and faculty to have a better perspective of the African immigrant and to dispel myths and negative stereotypes about African people and other immigrants.