Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education


Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education


Article excerpt

Dear BI Career Consultants:

What kinds of initiatives do higher education institutions need to create supportive environments that facilitate minority faculty retention?

DR.CAROLINE S. TURNER associate professor of educational policy and administration, University of Minnesota

The recruitment and retention of faculty of color remains one of the most difficult challenges facing American higher education. Research findings--whether qualitative or quantitative, whether numerical or narrative--demonstrate that faculty members of color are, at most, 10 percent of the total faculty, and many describe experiences of racial and ethnic bias in the workplace.

In order to reverse this trend and to tenure faculty members of color, institutions must learn to conduct business as unusual. Changing an institutional outcome requires institutional change. In a book I co-authored with Dr. Samuel L. Myers Jr., titled Faculty of Color in Academe: Bittersweet Success, we found that there is a need to focus on changing the higher education workplace environment to further embrace the value of a racial and ethnically diverse professoriate.

One of the most prevalent barriers to progress toward a representative is recognizing and getting beyond myths. Myths act as barriers to progress in hiring and promoting faculty of color.

Example of such myths include labor-market myths. Institutions feel that they cannot compete for faculty members of color but studies show that few scholars of color are, in fact, sought after.

Another myth is the model-minority myth. This myth promotes the perception that certain populations are successful and do not experience discrimination.

A third myth is that diversity is only for minorities. However, all can benefit from exposure to diverse perspectives.

Finally, the level-playing-field myth would dismiss countless studies that document the added pressures placed on a faculty member of color in a predominantly White environment-such as biased student evaluations, differential role expectations, and the impact of value conflicts for faculty of color.

In addition, institutions can:

* Incorporate diversity as a core value and stress the importance of commitment to diversity from all levels of the institution;

* Broaden definitions of scholarship and restructure the faculty reward system:

* Insure that all tasks undertaken by faculty are equally honored and recognized, rather than emphasizing one to the exclusion of others;

* Dispel myths and develop systematic ways to address inequities in the hiring and promotion of faculty members of color;

* Initiate institution-wide processes and practices that promote community and inclusion versus competition; Develop ways to monitor progress;

* Create institutional accountability so when a person is denied tenure, there is a recognition that the institution has failed the individual as well as the individual failed to gain tenure;

* Encourage the development of cross-campus alliances that are devoted to thinking hard about how to promote institutional climates that support a racially diverse faculty;

* Review hiring processes. …

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