Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Education Elite: A New Study Examines the Importance of Diversifying Chairs and Professorships in Academia

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Education Elite: A New Study Examines the Importance of Diversifying Chairs and Professorships in Academia

Article excerpt

When Dr. Nicholas Daniel Hartlep decided to examine the demographics of distinguished professors (DPs) and endowed chairs (ECs) within schools of education, he discovered that Asians represent less than 3 percent of all such positions.

While calls to diversify the professoriate are common, the finding led Hartlep to proclaim the need for transformation of this elite niche within American academe.

"Specifically, we were concerned that although EC and DP positions may be put into place to advance a given discipline, true advancement may not take place if such positions are not occupied by a diverse group of scholars," Hartlep, an assistant professor of educational foundations at Illinois State University, wrote in a paper called "A National Analysis of Endowed Chairs and Distinguished Professors in the Field of Education." The paper was published recently in Educational Studies: A Journal of the American Educational Studies Association.

"Today, the importance of diversity in higher education is widely recognized: We argue that this diversity must extend all the way to the top--to EC and DP positions--if higher education is to become truly diversified," the paper states.

The finding not only prompted Hartlep to offer up a few solutions for how to diversify this elite niche of the professoriate --solutions that include more and earlier mentoring by distinguished professors and those who hold endowed chairs--it also gave him the idea for one of his next books.

"I've interviewed a handful of them and I'm working on a book about their mentoring," Hartlep said of the few Asians who hold endowed chairs or distinguished professorships in schools of education.

"Each professor will be a chapter," he revealed to Diverse recently at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in Washington, D.C.

Racial gap

It wouldn't be hard to include in such a book every Asian faculty member who holds a distinguished professorship or endowed chair in a school of education.

That's because only nine Asians hold one of 381 endowed chairs in schools of education, and only two hold one of the 113 distinguished professorships in schools of education, according to Hartlep's paper.

The paper found that race, gender and prestige of a faculty member's doctoral alma mater were all significant predictors of securing a distinguished professorship or an endowed chair.

Universities have rewarded outstanding professors with such positions for the past 150 or so years to give them recognition through additional compensation, funds for travel, and, depending on the discipline, other amenities, such as equipment, labs and assistants, the paper states.

According to his research, the vast majority of endowed chairs and distinguished professorships have gone to White men who went to elite institutions.

Specifically, the paper found that:

* 308 of the 381 endowed chairs in schools of education are held by Whites.

* 97 of the 113 distinguished professorships in schools of education are held by Whites.

* Men held 232, or 58 percent, of all endowed chairs in schools of education, compared to women, who held 168, or 42 percent.

* Men held 71, or 60.7 percent, of all distinguished professorships in schools of education, compared to women, who held 47 distinguished professorships, or 39.5 percent.

Hartlep also found that faculty members who earned their doctoral degrees from an elite institution of higher education held the highest proportion of endowed chairs or professorships--195 or 48. …

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