Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Media Studies

First Advisor

Richard Popp

Committee Members

David Allen, Susana Munoz


Advertising, College Websites, Deficit, Diversity, Higher Education, Marketing


Deficit discourse, the idea that minorities "lack" intellectually, runs through current ideas about diversity in higher education. Diversity is viewed as a policy that helps the deficient. Recent litigation about diversity, Fisher v. University of Texas (2013), embodied the alignment of deficit and diversity. This study examined portrayals, visual and textual, of diversity on the websites of ten urban-serving universities, using a method of critical discourse analysis and a lens of critical race theory, to uncover the ways they defined diversity and if notions of deficit were attached. This study also addressed the ways these universities, a part of the Coalition of Urban-Serving Universities, discussed their communities and if deficit was attached. Diversity was defined as deficient racial minorities and communities as well as diversity as tokens and a form of compliance. The findings of this study show that these college websites, through their portrayals of racial minorities as deficient, duplicate inequality and encourage the maintenance of White hegemony.