The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore faculty and administrators’ perceptions of multicultural initiatives in higher education. A demographic survey was used to select the study participants, which consisted of 10 faculty members and 10 administrators with at least two to five years of experience working with diverse student populations in Maricopa County, Arizona. Data was obtained through the use of focus group sessions and coding was done by utilizing Liamputtong and Ezzy’s (2005) three column format and NVivo10. The four major themes that emerged were: 1) Leadership support is needed to facilitate diversity policies and programs, 2) Curriculum and programming need to be adapted to
engage students and enhance learning beyond the classroom, 3) Incorporating multicultural education created a welcoming environment in which students felt respected and safe to express themselves, and 4) No special instruction needed because incorporating culture does not necessarily enhance learning or the retention of knowledge. Findings indicated that faculty,
administrators, and those in key leadership positions are at odds when deciding how best to meet the needs of diverse students. As the diversity of students increases on college campuses, it will be important for academic affairs professionals to be prepared to meet the needs of these diverse student populations by constructing learning environments in which a diversity of perspectives are represented (Bolman & Gallos, 2011; Kuk & Banning, 2010). Study results suggest that important steps institutional leaders can take to achieve this goal are to: (1) carefully draft definitions and policies of what constitutes a multicultural program, (2) ensure that these definitions and policies are clearly communicated, understood, and implemented by all members
of the academic community, and (3) provide ongoing education to students and staff about the
benefits of multicultural initiatives within the campus and the community at large.