Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

THE LAST WORD: Where Are the CEOs at Recruitment and Retention Conferences?

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

THE LAST WORD: Where Are the CEOs at Recruitment and Retention Conferences?

Article excerpt

THE LAST WORD: Where Are the CEOs at Recruitment And Retention. Conferences?

Attending conferences on the recruitment and retention of minorities is often bittersweet. While it is energizing to meet others in higher education who are concerned and dedicated to the issues of recruitment and retention, it is equally as frustrating to see so few high-level administrators in attendance.

Our participation in the Ninth Annual Conference for Recruitment and Retention of Minorities in Education held at SUNY-Oswego was no different; a significant number of faculty and junior-level administrators were present, but the only CEO in sight was Stephen Weber, president of the host institution.

College and university presidents can play a major part in perpetuating the very situation they seek to alter. By claiming that they cannot effectively recruit administrators and faculty of color and that the system doesn't work, they absolve themselves of the responsibility of actually changing that which isn't working. In other words, they could change the method of recruitment for the target audience rather than claim that the target audience cannot be reached with present tools.

Is there then something that top white administrators can learn from their African-American counterparts to elicit the same kinds of positive results? Do white CEOs need a lesson in "being Black?"

Here are some recommendations that differ from the usual ones offered in our conference presentations.

- Become bicultural or multicultural. People of color must be bicultural if they want to succeed at predominantly white institutions. They need to understand the "power-coded" methods of communication -- both verbal and nonverbal -- and the importance of "system" values and modes of thought. For whites to become bicultural they, too, need to learn how to operate with ease in a culture unfamiliar to them. They should find ways to immerse themselves in an "other" culture and allow themselves to experience culture shock. For example, white CEOs might attend and participate in activities sponsored by Puerto Rican or African-American community organizations. The consequences of being bicultural are significant, as people begin to view events and actions from different perspectives and consider the "other" as an integral part of their mindset. …

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