Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Manship School of Mass Communication

Document Type



This case study explores how an institution in the southeastern conference (SEC) responded to racial reckonings before and after the 2020 murder of George Floyd, how students came to perceive the institution's responses and commitment to diversity and inclusion. To understand this phenomenon beyond apologia and image repair theory, the discourse of renewal theoretical framework and university social responsibility guides this dissertation. This work fills a gap in the literature on crisis communication in response to racism in higher education spaces. Using critical discourse analysis and an open-ended survey, this dissertation further explores the idea of social responsibility of institutions of higher education (IHE) and its impact on crisis communication, before and after such a historic moment in society that caused a global racial reckoning. Specifically, study one revealed that the university in the southeastern conference (SEC) school division did not use all four tenets of discourse of renewal until the racial injustice of George Floyd. Study two revealed that survey participants from the same SEC school felt that their institution’s racial crisis communication did not protect students, lacked a call to action, did not clearly explain their moral and legal responsibility in such cases, and mishandled crisis communication overall. These findings provide insight into how organizations can improve communication in racial crises and reveal strategies and statements institutions can specifically adapt to foster better communication in an authentic diverse environment.



Committee Chair

Harris, Tina M.

Available for download on Friday, January 17, 2025