Flying solo : the experiences of African American development officers at predominately white institutions
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As higher education student, faculty, staff, and alumni populations continue to diversify, the development field’s diversity needs to diversify as well (Gasman & Bowman, 2013). Moreover, with higher education institutions receiving decreasing levels of financial allocations from both state and national governments, these institutions need to rely more on their development and fundraising operations. Van Dick (2001) suggests that when people can identify with their organization, they tend to invest more resources and have a longer tenure supporting the organization. At 11%, minorities are underrepresented in higher education advancement (Gasman & Bowman, 2013). Thus, there is a need to explore the experiences of African American development professionals in higher education and how they navigate Predominately White Institutions (PWIs). This study focused on the experiences of African American development officers who were frontline gift officers. It explored how they conceptualized their roles, how they navigated their professional responsibilities, and how they described the influence of their race on the work. The study employed an Afrocentric paradigm (Afrocentricity) as the theoretical framework. This study enhanced the literature by filling the gap related to African American development officers. Additionally, institutions might be able to transfer the information presented into strategies that promote the retention and recruitment of African American development officers and African American administrators as a whole.