Recruitment and Retention of Ethnic Minority Counselor Educators: An Exploratory Study of CACREP-Accredited Counseling Programs. (Current Issues)

By Holcomb-McCoy, Cheryl; Bradley, Carla | Counselor Education and Supervision, March 2003 | Go to article overview

Recruitment and Retention of Ethnic Minority Counselor Educators: An Exploratory Study of CACREP-Accredited Counseling Programs. (Current Issues)


Holcomb-McCoy, Cheryl, Bradley, Carla, Counselor Education and Supervision


This exploratory study sought to determine the strategies used by programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) to recruit and retain ethnic minority faculty. Seventy-three CACREP liaisons were surveyed, and the results indicated that many programs have not developed specific strategies to recruit and retain ethnic minority faculty. Mentoring was the most frequently reported strategy for retaining ethnic minority faculty. Implications for counselor education are discussed.

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As the U.S. population becomes more diverse, building a diverse university faculty that more closely resembles the demographics of the nation as a whole becomes increasingly important (M. Collins, 1990; Lessow-Hurley, 1989; Makay, 1990). The most recent U.S. census (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000) indicated that Whites make up 75% of the total U.S. population, and ethnic minorities (i.e., Blacks/ African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, American Indians, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders) make up the remaining 25%. Aguirre (2000) indicated that in higher education, women and ethnic minority faculty have increased, but they remain underrepresented relative to their numbers in the U.S. population. According to recent studies (e.g., Nettles, Perna, & Bradburn, 2000), approximately 90% of the total faculty at the nation's 2- and 4-year public and private colleges are White, while the highest percentage of ethnic minority faculty are employed at public 4-year institutions (12.6%), a figure influenced by the inclusion of historically Black and Hispanic/Latino colleges and universities. Likewise, the American Association of University Professors (Alger, 2000) has reported that minority representation among tenure-track faculty in many disciplines remains alarmingly low despite minority faculty recruitment and retention efforts over the past 20 years.

Many higher education institutions have developed strategies for recruiting ethnic minority faculty within the limits of general faculty recruitment policies (Cooper & Smith, 1990; Lessow-Hurley, 1989; Makay, 1990; Miller, 1991). For instance, several authors (e.g., Cooper & Smith, 1990; Smith, 1994) have documented that universities and colleges with diverse faculty have gone to great lengths to locate prospective minority applicants and to become aware of unintentional institutional barriers in the hiring process. Others (e.g., M. Collins, 1990) have noted that departmental faculty with an understanding of minority faculty experiences at institutions dominated by White individuals are more successful at hiring ethnic minority faculty.

Most minority faculty recruitment efforts have taken place without any documented strategies or long-term strategic plans (Aguirre, 2000). Knowles and Harleston (1996) examined 11 major research universities and found that most departmental chairpersons were unaware of resources that could assist them in identifying minority candidates and had very little knowledge of personnel work beyond their experiences in their own careers. The possibility that minority candidates might be in different networks or react differently to various recruitment approaches seemed novel to them. Knowles and Harleston also found that faculty search committees received very little training or briefing on recruiting for diversity and were far removed from essential knowledge about and involvement in minority faculty recruitment. Considering this lack of information and knowledge among university faculty, Knowles and Harleston concluded that it was no surprise that increasing minority faculty had not been dramatically successful.

Several authors (Opp & Smith, 1994; Owens, Reis, & Hall, 1994) have even suggested institutional factors that serve as predictors of whether a college or university has a high percentage of underrepresented minorities on the faculty. For instance, Opp and Smith indicated that having an ethnic minority vice president of academic affairs who spent a significant amount of time on issues pertaining to minority faculty recruitment increased the chances of recruiting an ethnic minority faculty member.

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