Louise Michelle Vital, PhD

Research & Scholarship


I believe the purpose of research is to learn about a phenomenon and contribute new knowledge about it.  My goal is to conduct research that not only contributes to the body of scholarship on a topic but also has practical applications in the real world.

Research Methodology

As a student-centered practitioner and advocate, I am committed to student equity, access, and success in higher education and I conduct qualitative research that brings forth the voices of under-represented student populations in higher education and scholarship.

Through my scholarship, I examine the role of education in society and implications of higher education systems working in concert with the local community to address global development challenges.

Research Agenda

My primary line of inquiry is related to the global dimensions of higher education. 

Broadly, my research agenda centers on the following areas of specialization:

  • Global student access, equity, and success in higher education

  • Student experiences in higher education (emphasis: underrepresented, academically underprepared, and international)

  • Role of higher education in society (emphasis: higher education in communities in crisis and conflict)

  • Critical reflexivity in research and practice

  • Scholar/practitioner preparation for international engagement and field research

Current Research Projects

Co-Principal Investigator – Northeastern University, University of New Orleans
October 2017–Present
Qualitative study examining the role of culture in the development of a LGBQ+ sexual orientation identity among Caribbean heritage students in U.S. higher education.

Co-Principal Investigator – University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Michigan State University
February 2015–Present
Qualitative study on 22 U.S. doctoral students’ preparation for conducting international research. 

Co-Principal Investigator Michigan State University, University of South Florida
November 2014–Present
Ongoing qualitative study on the experiences of Black women (82 to date) in U.S. doctoral programs. 

Principal Investigator – Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP), Port-au-Prince, Haiti
June 2013
Conducted a month-long case study exploring the scope of higher education challenges in Haiti and examined how issues of university access and persistence are addressed. 

Future Research Projects

My future research projects include examining geopolitical climate influence on international, migrant, and refugee student experiences and a collaborative project exploring disaster impact on higher education systems in communities of color. 


Peer Reviewed

Yao, C. W. & Vital, L. M. (2018). Reflexivity in international contexts: Implications for U.S. doctoral students international research preparation. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 13, p. 193-201. 

Patterson, S. M., Lane, T. B., & Vital, L.M. (2017). Black doctoral women: Exploring barriers and facilitators of success in graduate education. Academic Perspectives in Higher Education. 

Yao, C. W. & Vital, L. M. (2016). “I don’t think I’m prepared”: Perceptions of U.S. higher education doctoral students on international research preparation. Journal for the Study of Postsecondary and Tertiary Education, I, 197-214. 


Book Chapter

Alvarado-Young, K. & Vital, L. M. (forthcoming). When Keepin' It Real Goes Wrong: #PCpolice. In M. Benjamin & J. Jessup-Anger (Eds.) Maybe I should. . . Case studies on ethics for student affairs professionals, 2nd edition. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Boehme, L. & Vital, L. M. (forthcoming). Student organizations and due process: A settled issue? In M. Benjamin & J. Jessup-Anger (Eds.) Maybe I should. . . Case studies on ethics for student affairs professionals, 2nd edition. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Vital, L. M. & Hoffshire, M. (forthcoming).“Not a thing that we talk about”: Recommendations for supporting and engaging LGBQ+ identified Caribbean heritage students. In S. Patterson Stephens & T. Bertrand Jones (Eds.) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Higher Education.

Hoffshire, M. & Vital, L. M. (forthcoming). “It’s the intersections that get sticky”: Navigating ethnic and sexual orientation identities. In J. C. Garvey, et al. (Eds.) Case studies for student development theory: Advancing social justice & inclusion in higher education. New York and London: Routledge.

Vital, L. M. & Yao, C. W. (2018). Future directions for internationalization in higher education: Ecological considerations for doctoral research training. In D. Proctor & L. E. Rumbley (Eds.), The Future Agenda for Internationalization in Higher Education: Next Generation Insights into Research, Policy, and Practice. New York and London: Routledge.


Other Articles

Vital, L. M. (2017). Looking ahead post disaster: What Latin American and Caribbean higher education can learn from Haiti. Revista de Educación Superior en América Latina, 3, 3-5.

Vital, L. M. (2017). Challenges, success, and opportunities for Haitian higher education. In A. A. Woldegiyorgis, L. E. Rumbley, & H. de Wit (Eds), CIHE Perspectives No. 6. Year in Review, 2016-2017. Boston, MA: Boston College Center for International Higher Education, 47-49. 

Vital, L. M. (Winter, 2008). What’s in a name? End Note. The Simmons Magazine-CAS Edition. 

Renn, K. A., Rehling, J. B. & Vital, L.M. (2005, August). Using an online immersion to teach and learn about student affairs and technology. StudentAffairs.Com


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