Byline: Tara Malone Daily Herald Staff Writer
Elgin Community College's faculty roster grew by five Tuesday night, but only one of the new instructors is a minority.
That sounded an alarm for board member Phyllis Folarin.
The alarm rang louder when Folarin saw college statistics suggesting minority students are more likely to drop out of the Elgin college than their white classmates.
"This is a priority for me and a priority for the minority community," said Folarin, who is African-American and principal of Nature Ridge Elementary in Bartlett. "I can't help but feel it's time the college stepped up and realized something must be done."
Folarin's concerns were echoed by her fellow board members, who requested college administrators develop a plan to keep more minority students in school and aggressively recruit talented, minority professors for the 2005-2006 school year. A plan that would jumpstart recruiting efforts in September as compared with January to fill at least five open faculty seats by fall 2005.
"In attracting qualified minority candidates, we cannot sit around and wait for them to come to us. ...We have to investigate where people are, go there and find them," Folarin said.
Injecting ECC's professional ranks with more diversity, board Chairwoman Ellie MacKinney said, could help keep diverse students in school and on track for an associate degree.
"If you look at learning and issues around it like self-esteem and goal setting, it can be done by people who are not diverse. But it is more effective if students who are diverse have role models who also are diverse, who look like them, who talk like them," said MacKinney, a former educator in Elgin area schools.
ECC's demographics, however, suggest such role models may be hard to find.
Some 30 percent, or 5,366, of the 18,242 students enrolled in credit classes at ECC this year are Latino, for instance, but only six of the college's 96 full-time professors are Latino. Seven, after Tuesday night's hire. The numbers improve among part-time faculty with 34 Latino instructors recorded this year.
And the numbers should continue …