Title

An Assessment of Intergroup Dynamics at a Multi-Campus University: One University, Two Cultures

Campus

Dahlonega

Publication date

2019

Publisher

Studies in Higher Education

Abstract

Research on Intergroup Contact Theory has suggested that more positive environments develop when individuals have greater exposure to diverse groups, though minority students and White students often report different experiences. Literature on higher education institutions has largely been relegated to studies on predominantly White institutions. This study was designed to address that gap by assessing the diversity climate at a large, recently consolidated multi-campus university. Comparisons were made between the two main campuses, one a predominantly White campus (PWC) and the other a more racially diverse campus (DivC). The Diverse Learning Environments survey was administered to 2582 undergraduate students to assess perceptions of diversity climate, racial harassment and campus hostility, likelihood of attrition, satisfaction with the university, and perceptions of professor effectiveness. Results indicated that experiences of harassment correlated with dissatisfaction with the campus and lower perceptions of institutional devotion to diversity, and a greater likelihood that students would choose to transfer. Campus differences in diversity climate are also explored. Views of diversity climate were correlated with perceptions of their professors’ effectiveness. As more colleges across the US continue to consolidate into larger, multi-campus universities, it is essential to consider the diversity climate across campuses with varying demographics and cultures.

KEYWORDS: Intergroup Contact Theory; multi-campus university; racial diversity; diversity climate; harassment; professor effectiveness

Author Biography

Bryan Dawson is a professor of psychological science at the University of North Georgia. Josh Cuevas is a professor and educational psychologist at the University of North Georgia.

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An Assessment of Intergroup Dynamics at a Multi-Campus University: One University, Two Cultures

Research on Intergroup Contact Theory has suggested that more positive environments develop when individuals have greater exposure to diverse groups, though minority students and White students often report different experiences. Literature on higher education institutions has largely been relegated to studies on predominantly White institutions. This study was designed to address that gap by assessing the diversity climate at a large, recently consolidated multi-campus university. Comparisons were made between the two main campuses, one a predominantly White campus (PWC) and the other a more racially diverse campus (DivC). The Diverse Learning Environments survey was administered to 2582 undergraduate students to assess perceptions of diversity climate, racial harassment and campus hostility, likelihood of attrition, satisfaction with the university, and perceptions of professor effectiveness. Results indicated that experiences of harassment correlated with dissatisfaction with the campus and lower perceptions of institutional devotion to diversity, and a greater likelihood that students would choose to transfer. Campus differences in diversity climate are also explored. Views of diversity climate were correlated with perceptions of their professors’ effectiveness. As more colleges across the US continue to consolidate into larger, multi-campus universities, it is essential to consider the diversity climate across campuses with varying demographics and cultures.

KEYWORDS: Intergroup Contact Theory; multi-campus university; racial diversity; diversity climate; harassment; professor effectiveness