Date of Award

Fall 12-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Kyna Shelley

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Lilian Hill

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Richard Mohn

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Thomas V. O'Brien

Committee Member 4 School



The purpose of this study was to determine if there was a difference between the way that higher education marketing professionals at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and non-HBCU Black Serving Institutions (BSIs) use website marketing techniques for institutional branding. This examination was prompted by Gasman (2007) who suggested that the inability of some HBCUs to garner and/or maintain sufficient enrollment numbers stems from poor image management. Further, Gibbs (2015) suggested that a comparison between HBCU websites and Traditionally White Institution (TWI) websites might be beneficial. Thus, this study sought to answer the following research questions:

RQ1. Is there a difference in the content marketing practices used at HBCUs compared to those at non-HBCU BSIs?

RQ2. Is there a difference in the degree of access that students have to recommended content on the website homepages of HBCUs compared to those of non-HBCU BSIs?

RQ3. Is there a difference in the image marketing practices used by education marketing professionals at HBCUs compared to those at non-HBCU BSIs?

An instrument, modeled after the scoresheet of Harper (2001), was developed for the purpose of rating access to 18 content items and representation of 6 racial groups. Data were collected by three raters from the homepages of the college websites of 54 institutions located in Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina (26 HBCUs and 28 non-HBCU BSIs). A one-way ANOVA was used to answer research question one. Research question two and three were assessed using a logistic regression. Results indicated that while there is not a significant difference in the number of desired content items available between HBCUs and non-HBCU BSIs, there is a significant difference in the individual access to about sections, application deadlines, visitation requests, mail requests, and information about programs. Additionally, there was found to be a significant difference in homepage representation of Hispanics.