Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

To Stay or to Go: A Comparison of Factors Influential in the Decisions of African American Faculty to Remain at Two Elite Southern Research Universities

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

To Stay or to Go: A Comparison of Factors Influential in the Decisions of African American Faculty to Remain at Two Elite Southern Research Universities

Article excerpt

Faculty of color are vastly underrepresented in American higher education, a situation that persists despite the fact that diversification of the professoriate is identified as an explicit goal of many colleges and universities. Minority professors represent 17.5% of all full-time faculty in the U.S., with African Americans accounting for only 4.9% of those in tenure-track positions (Pittman, 2012).

Diverse faculty make valuable contributions to the academic community by serving as role models for an increasingly diverse student body, counseling and mentoring minority students, and enriching the intellectual climate on campus and beyond (Gasman, Kim, & Nguyen, 2011). At the same time, minority faculty continue to encounter workplace challenges that run the gamut from discriminatory institutional practices and policies (Carr et al., 2007; Kulis, Chong, & Shaw, 1999) to routine, often subtle, insults and invalidations in their interactions with colleagues (Pittman, 2012). Ultimately, these and other forms of racial oppression at work may contribute to low morale, withdrawal, and even leave-taking. Dissatisfaction and departure are, or ought to be, of special concern insofar as institutional efforts to retain and advance talented minority faculty constitute a vital component of the diversity project in higher education and help to promote academic excellence (Barrett & Smith, 2008).

In their efforts to understand the issues associated with effectively recruiting and retaining African American faculty at elite universities, researchers have examined a variety of forces, factors, conditions, and experiences. Studies have investigated market wages and their influence on higher education's ability to compete for doctoral-trained African Americans (Ashraf & Shabbir, 2006; Renzulli, Grant, & Kathuria, 2006; Toutkoushian, Bellas, & Moore, 2007); feelings of exclusion, isolation, marginalization, and alienation experienced by minority faculty at predominantly White institutions (Alfred, 2001; Johnsrud & Sadao, 1998; Turner, 2003); the socialization and incorporation of African American and women faculty into schools and colleges (Alex-Assensoh, 2003; Dixon-Reeves, 2003; Kosoko-Laski, Sonnino, & Voytko, 2006); and the contributions of African American faculty to the scholarship of discovery (Antonio, 2002; Yager et al., 2007). Additional studies have focused on the teaching experiences of faculty of color (Mitchell & Rosiek, 2006; Stanley, 2006; Stanley et al.,2003), coping strategies adopted by Black women and minority faculty to succeed in the academy (Thomas & Hollenshead, 2001; Vasquez et al., 2006), representation and equity issues facing Black faculty (Beutel & Nelson, 2006; Moradi & Neimeyer, 2005; Perna et al., 2007), and the role of academic culture in the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in academe (Aguirre, 2000).

Conceptual Framework

Building on earlier research by Matier (1985, 1990, 1991), which was grounded in the foundational work of March and Simon (1958) and Flowers and Hughes (1973), the present study focuses on the African American faculty experience and explores in greater depth three sets of factors determined by quantitative analyses to be influential in the decisions of faculty to remain at or to depart from the predominantly White institutions (PWIs) where they are employed. These factors have to do with internal work-related (intangible and tangible) benefits and external non-work related benefits of choosing to remain in a university faculty position (Matier, 1990). Representative variables within each of the conceptual dimensions are displayed in Table 1.

Internal Work-Related Intangible Factors

The importance of developing a workplace culture of collegiality and inclusiveness is widely discussed in extant research (August & Waltman 2004; Hassouneh et al., 2012; Lutz et al., 2013; Turner & Myers, 1999). …

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