Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Public Administration

Committee Chair

Phillip, Habel, Ph.D.


This study examined the factors influencing university prioritization of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Using a framework grounded in organizational behavior—I examine commitment and ethical climate from an open systems perspective. This research was further informed by the Inclusive Excellence Framework—a meta-analysis aimed to integrate DEI efforts through dimensions of organizational behavior, and Smith et al.’s (1997) framework analysis of DEI research. This thesis explores DEI values and objectives, the procedures to address discrimination, and DEI elements and established structures. Through both quantitative and qualitative analyses of DEI websites across universities, this thesis offers a new perspective on organizational culture and commitment in higher education to DEI. The findings from the quantitative analysis revealed that factors such as the presence of a Diversity Action Team do not increase the commitment level of higher education institutions towards DEI initiatives compared to other factors like institutional characteristics. The institutional characteristics—such as gender and Carnegie Research Classification influences the direction of prioritization for HEIs and indicates if the HEI will actively commit to implementing DEI initiatives.