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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

July 6, 2007

Written by C.N.

Lack of Minority Faculty Still an Issue

As American society becomes more culturally diverse, it seems that it would make sense for our colleges and universities to reflect that change (or if anything, be at the forefront of such changes) and have faculty that also is culturally diverse. But as Diverse Education reports, these efforts still have a long way to go in order to become reality:

This is the breakdown by race/ethnicity of full-time faculty for 2003 according to U.S. Department of Education, IPEDS Fall Staff Survey; EEOC, EEO-6 Survey: White 81 percent; Black 5 percent; Hispanic 3 percent; Asian 6.5 percent; American Indian less than 1 percent; race/ethnicity unknown 1 percent; and non-resident alien 3.3 percent.

They shared their experiences of racism and some universities’ deferred efforts to diversify their institutions as part of a discussion to identify the problem behind low faculty diversity. Some blamed institutional racism, which they agreed to be the most dangerous form of racism, yet the most prominent on their campuses. “We are our own enemies,” said Dr. Marybeth Gasman, chair of the AAUP Committee on Historically Black Institutions and Scholars of Color and assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

“When I was in grad school and decided to do my dissertation on philanthropy and African Americans in higher education, I was pulled aside by a senior faculty member who said, ‘I know you’re interested in this but you will be ghettoized if you do this, not get published or find a job.’” Gasman said many students of color are given this same message and a lot of faculty “poo-poo” on their ideas, which is why having a diverse faculty is critical.

To summarize and unfortunately, despite the fact that most academic disciplines and colleges in general tend to be more liberal than conservative and therefore should be much more aware and open to having a more culturally diverse faculty, the practical reality is that there are still too many mechanisms of institutional entrenchment, aversion to change, and outright racial discrimination that result in minority students and faculty feeling unsupported and unwelcome.

In other words, there is plenty of talk, but not much walk.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Lack of Minority Faculty Still an Issue" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/07/lack-of-minority-faculty-still-an-issue/> ().

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