592 The Professional Counselor | Volume 10, Issue 4 Institutional and Program Characteristics The category institutional and program characteristics refers to features that are a part of program identity. This category was significant, as it represents the backdrop for a unique set of conditions in which the participants experienced the limitations as well as strengths of the program environment. Institutional and program characteristics may be part of the institution’s natural setting that the faculty participant had little control over, such as geographic location, institution size, institution reputation, tuition cost, or demographic composition of the area in which the program was located. At times, these factors were helpful for recruitment purposes. One participant described how the program’s geographic location positively impacted the recruitment of prospective students, including diverse students: “We are the only doctoral program in the state, so I think that carries some clout.” Another participant added, “A lot of it is financial . . . They largely choose programs because they are geographically convenient, so they can work or be close to family. So, their choice is largely guided by economic and geographic factors.” Institutional and program characteristics also included factors that influenced support and retention of diverse students through their doctoral journey. Characteristics mentioned as either a hindrance or a support for diverse students included: (a) presence of diverse faculty, visual representation, and student body; (b) supportive environment for diverse students; (c) faculty attitudes and dispositions which create either a welcoming or hostile sociocultural climate; (d) fellowship or scholarship monies intended for diverse students; (e) evidence of valuing of and commitment to diversity; (f) multicultural and social justice focused activities; and (g) faculty who share common research interests with their students. From this list, it was evident that doctoral students seemed best supported by program qualities and actions that communicated a valuing of and commitment to diversity. Awareness and Understanding Participants indicated awareness that the context in which the institution and program exist presents as either a hindrance or a benefit to diversity. For example, geographic location and demographic composition of the locality can pose a barrier to recruitment as one participant expressed: “Our university itself is not going to attract people. It is a very White community.” This participant understands that this means the program will need to develop specific recruitment efforts to mitigate this potential barrier to “show students that this is a program that would be welcoming and take proactive steps to do that.” Participants also indicated an awareness that students can sense whether diversity-related issues will be given priority. One participant stated, “Students are really astute about getting a sense for how committed a department is to diversity. So, having tangible evidence there is a willingness to commit to diversity at the faculty level is super important.” Another participant shared, “Our interview process is a barrier . . . There can be some privileged White males who are highly, highly confrontational, and I don’t think that’s an appropriate recruitment style for sending a welcoming message to minority candidates.” Recruitment Strategies The second major category identified in the data, recruitment strategies, pertains to the process of developing and implementing plans for the primary purpose of attracting individuals from diverse backgrounds to apply and enroll in the program. The recruitment strategies category is composed of two subcategories that are shared with the support and retention strategies, namely awareness and understanding and proactive and intentional efforts.