Increasing minority enrollments in higher education: political institutions, public universities, and policy outcomes
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Few debates spark as much interest as the controversy over how to increase access to higher education, particularly for racial minority groups. Despite the knowledge accumulated on the benefits of diversity, the higher education community knows very little about the determinants of minority student enrollment, or what universities can do to affect minority student representation. This dissertation seeks to investigate the factors that affect variance in minority student enrollment levels at public universities, with particular attention devoted to the political environment. This analysis of the relationship between political institutions and public universities draws on a number of subliteratures in public administration and political science, including theories of political control, descriptive representation, and public management. As one of the first major studies of the politics of higher education, the analysis draws on untapped data that allow for better tests of many of these theories. These data include measures of university enrollments, drawn from the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Dataset and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, data on political institutions, including racial representation, and interviews of university administrators. The quantitative analysis uses a combination of methods, including ordinary least squares, hierarchical linear modeling, and descriptive statistics. Using a framework of governance to link these subliteratures together allows for progress toward more general theories about the relationship between political institutions and bureaucracy. Substantively, this analysis also adds to our understanding of what factors affect minority enrollments. Chapter V uncovers the redistributive effect of the Hopwood case and California’s Proposition 209, and chapter VI builds on this finding, by testing for the effect of minority representation in state legislatures. Chapter VII then takes a closer look at the Texas system, investigating the effect of the Grutter decisions on enrollments, particularly at the flagship institutions. Overall, findings point to the importance of university-specific characteristics -- such as the institution’s level of selectivity and the values held by the university -- in moderating the influence of political institutions, particularly of court cases and state-level interventions, on minority student enrollment levels.
Hicklin, Alisa Kay (2006). Increasing minority enrollments in higher education: political institutions, public universities, and policy outcomes. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from