Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Andrea Beach


White, male college (WCM) students have been a central focus of researchers in higher education throughout its existence, but have not been studied as a group whose identity development is a key issue. This study looked at WCM, their masculinity levels, and how their past connections with peers, instructors, or staff influenced their White identity development. In this study I utilized a phenomenological research approach to learn about the lived experiences of eight WCM. The eight WCM were at least junior status at a medium size, Midwestern, public university.

The results point to multiple conclusions and themes. This study supported and deepened prior research that all groups within the university impact WCM. WCM can make connections with peers, instructors, and or staff, but those connections typically happen within different contexts and start under different circumstances. Participants felt that their peer connections were most important and influential. The masculine tendencies of the participants did not hinder them from connecting with others within the university. Interesting pieces of information tied to how WCM view instructors differently than peers or staff emerged. In addition, this study presented data detailing how students use humor to talk about race with their peers, and how their participants felt their education and current views about race began at home before entering college.

A positive White identity typically brings about stable psychological health, higher quality of life, comfort in multicultural environments, and less prejudice towards differing cultures (Ponterotto, Utsey, & Pederson, 2006). Thus, these findings can have implications for an entire university community.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access