Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Higher Education


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Stephanie Lezotte, Ph.D.

Committee Member 1

Andrew Tinnin, Ed.D.

Committee Member 2

Tyrone McCombs, Ph.D.


Piercings, Recruitment, Tattoos, Unconventional Professional, Visible Body Modifications


Dress codes in the workplace; Rowan University--Professional staff


Educational Leadership | Higher Education


This study attempts to examine the perceptions of faculty and staff at Rowan University towards professionals with visible body modifications (VBM), specifically tattoos and piercings, in higher education. Five main research questions were addressed: (i) What are the attitudes towards professionals with VBM at Rowan University? (ii) How might the display of VBM affect Rowan University’s values and objectives? (iii) How are professionals with VBM perceived by hiring managers at Rowan? (iv) In what ways do perceptions differ across campus units at Rowan University regarding professionals with VBM? (v) What kind of environment does staff and faculty at Rowan University provide for unconventional professionals? To answer these questions, a mixed method approach was utilized, which consisted of a 42 question Likert scale survey distributed to all active employees and a seven-question interview with randomly selected volunteers. Of the 4103 employees, 80 completed the survey and five respondents responsible for recruitment or hiring for their units were randomly selected to be interviewed. The study reveals a combination of indifference and acceptance among survey respondents, as well as understanding and encouragement of individuality and self-expression from interviewees. Overall, the study exposes positive views towards higher education professionals with visible body modifications and disputes discriminatory practices against unconventional prospective professionals.