Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Franca Dell'Olio

Second Advisor

Elizabeth C. Reilly

Third Advisor

David A. Sapp


Despite attention given to the increasing diversity in higher education, greater barriers to college access and degree attainment exist for many minoritized groups in comparison to dominant groups. Research illustrates that campus climate for diversity, a systemic concept, plays a critical role in the success of minoritized groups. Additionally, institutional accreditation is a critical process, and it may be a catalyst for systemic change. However, there is little research on the relationship between the regional accreditation process and institutional change, with even less research on the impact of accreditation on campus climate for diversity.

To address this gap in literature, this study utilized a descriptive qualitative methodology with three main sources of data for analysis—eight semi-structured interviews with accreditation liaison officers (ALOs), the Institutional Report, and the WSCUC site team visit report for each study participant campus. Data were analyzed using the multicontextual model for diverse learning environments, a multidimensional model for campus climate for diversity. Significant themes related to accreditation and institutional change in general included a focus on other mechanisms of change, a clear relationship between WSCUC accreditation and institutional change, and the need to consider mediating factors during the WSCUC process. Inconsistency related to the WSCUC Equity and Inclusion Policy, ALO skepticism about this possible relationship, and a lack of multicontextual emphasis emerged as themes related to campus climate for diversity. This study provides many practical recommendations to better leverage the accreditation process for positive institutional change—especially changes related to campus climate for diversity.