Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Scot Danforth

Second Advisor

Meghan Cosier

Third Advisor

Whitney McIntyre Miller

Fourth Advisor

Charlie Potts


The residential experiences of students with disabilities in higher education play a pivotal role in their overall campus education. However, little is known about the ways in which the staff who manage and support these residential environments understand and work with issues and concepts of disability. Utilizing constructivist grounded theory, this study examines the ways in which resident directors think about and work with disability within their positions of residential management. The study also explores the ways in which resident directors think about and understand disability as a component of diversity, the steps that resident directors take in working with students with disabilities, and the support they provide their student staff in fostering residential communities inclusive of students with disabilities. The findings suggest that resident directors’ work related to disabilities and disability identity is marked by tensions between individual understandings of disability and institutional systems and job expectations. Suggestions are provided for ways to better support resident directors as they navigate conflict between personal beliefs and positional responsibilities.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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