Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Pamela L Eddy

Committee Member

Eugene A. Roche

Committee Member

Natoya H. Haskins


The retention of African-American male students at predominantly White institutions is an issue that continues to plague colleges and universities in the United States. African-American men have the lowest college graduation rate of any segment of the population. Pointedly, two-thirds of African-American male students who attend public four-year schools do not graduate within six years. Yet, research highlights how social engagement supports many minority students who find themselves on the campuses of predominantly White institutions. Establishing social connections builds a support system for these students and can prevent social isolation. One manner of social engagement steeped in history is the presence of Black Greek Letter organizations (BGLOs), which were mostly founded around the turn of the 20th century and have encouraged the educational pursuits, social growth, maturity, and community outreach that is often part of the successful African-American male educational experience. The purpose of this dissertation is to understand and analyze how African-American men now view their experiences as a member of a BGLO at a predominantly White institution 25 years later. The dissertation examines how do the fraternity members perceive the influence of their BGLO membership on their persistence and what memories of their BGLO membership are most salient? Specifically, this study aimed to collect information regarding the impact of African-American male student retention employing empirical phenomenology. Data collection included interviews with eight African-American males who were members of one of the BGLOs. These men attended and graduated from a four-year PWI located in the southeastern region of the United States. The data collected was analyzed using the hermeneutic phenomenology method. This study found that African-American former collegians who successfully persisted towards their college degrees used their BGLO membership as a means of social engagement in order to establish connectedness to their respective PWI campuses. Their BGLO membership gave them immediate access to mentorship, campus leadership opportunities, heightened culture capital and an affinity group where they inspire and lead.



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