Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Swortzel, A. Kirk

Committee Member

Howell, R. Beverly

Committee Member

Newman, Michael

Committee Member

White, Ronnie

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Agricultural Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


School of Human Sciences


The purpose of this study was to explore the county-level professional staff?s perceptions of how diversity was being addressed in practice within the MSU-ES. The population consisted of 169 Mississippi State University Extension Service county-level professional staff with 128 or 75.7% completing the survey. Fifty percent of the respondents were female and 41% were males. The majority (70.3%) of the county-level professional staff were White with 23% being Black, 3% other, and 4% not indicating their ethnicity. The majority (75.7%) were at least 41 years of age. This study utilized descriptive survey research design. Means were used to determine how strongly the respondents agreed or disagreed with MSU-ES practices. Standard deviations helped in understanding of how the responses varied. Frequencies and percentages were used to determine the number and proportion of the respondents who agreed with MSU-ES practices. Findings of this study presented evidence that county-level professional staff?s perceptions of diversity of the Mississippi State University Extension Service were positive. County-level professional staff agreed with the manner in which MSU-ES publicly embraced diversity. However, findings revealed that there was a significant difference between respondents and non-respondents in their perception to the manner MSU-ES publicly embraced diversity. County-level professional staff also agreed that the MSU-ES was successful in recruiting and retaining diverse staff or volunteers and MSU-ES provided a level of intercultural communication that fostered mutual learning with people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. County-level professional staff perceived the MSU-ES was providing supportive climate for diversity that encouraged critical thinking and informed dialogue among members of a diverse community. County-level professional staff agreed or strongly agreed that the working environment within the MSU-ES was comfortable and secure and disagreed or strongly disagreed that the MSU-ES treated employees unfairly.