Date of Award

Fall 12-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

H. Quincy Brown

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Heather M. Annulis

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Jonathan Beedle

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dale L. Lunsford

Committee Member 4 School



Turnover in higher education is excessive compared to other education fields (Wilson et al., 2016). Up to 60% of student affairs professionals leave the field within the first five years of their professional career (Fried, 2014; Naifeh & Kearney, 2020), resulting in a loss of money, efficiency, and productivity (Allen et al., 2010). Previous research shows the link between turnover and job satisfaction for student affairs professionals (Fried, 2014) and the relationship between job satisfaction, emotional labor, and emotional dissonance (Parajon, 2011). Existing research lacks specific information about African Americans, undermining organizational efforts to retain employees of all identities. This research explores African American student affairs professionals' experiences with emotional labor and emotional dissonance and how these experiences impact their job satisfaction, framed by critical race theory and the theory of representative bureaucracy. The researcher used a phenomenological qualitative design and a hermeneutical phenomenological approach. The researcher interviewed African American student affairs professionals across the United States to understand their experience with emotional dissonance and emotional labor and its impact on overall job satisfaction. The interpretive phenomenological analysis drew themes from the participants' lived experiences to inform campus leadership retention efforts. Additionally, this research could be a catalyst for further conversations on emotional labor and emotional dissonance and the experiences of African American professionals compared to their peers.