Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Nurturing Ph.D.S

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Nurturing Ph.D.S

Article excerpt

To boost the number of minority professors, start by seeing doctoral candidates through their journey.


When minority doctoral candidates fail, the reason is seldom academic in nature, says the leader of a program focusing on increasing the ranks of minorities holding doctorates.

Minority doctoral candidates typically throw in the towel because they feel alone and unsupported, says Dr. Ansley A. Abraham, director of the Atlanta-based Southern Regional Education Board's State Doctoral Scholars Program.

"Alienation and isolation are two areas that minority students frequently identify as being huge barriers to their being successful at the graduate level," Abraham says.

"Research will tell you that for all graduate students, the number one barrier to getting an advanced degree or Ph.D. is finances. But very close to finances for minority students is alienation and isolation," he said during SREB's 13th Annual Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, a conference on overcoming the shortage of minority faculty by nurturing future doctorate-level scholars.

Ramping up the number of minorities with doctorates is a critical first step toward addressing the low percentage of minority professors nationwide. Currently, only 5 percent of college faculty are Black, 3 percent are Hispanic and 0.5 percent are American Indian, according to SREB spokesman Alan Richard.

"University and college leaders need to understand that we can no longer define academic excellence in the exclusion of diversity," says Dr. Steve O. Michael, Kent State University vice provost and professor of higher education administration. "The future of our graduates, the vitality of our business all depend on our ability to attract diverse talents and to leverage the benefits [of] diversity."

That lends a certain urgency to the work done by Abraham and the 13-year-old State Doctoral Scholars Program. …

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