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Underrepresentation in the Academy and the Institutional Climate for Faculty Diversity

Sharon L. Fries-Britt is an Associate Professor in the College of Education at the
University of Maryland, College Park.
Heather T. Rowan-Kenyon is an Assistant Professor in the Lynch School of
Education at Boston College.
Laura W. Perna is a Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the
University of Pennsylvania.
Jeffrey F. Milem is a Professor in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at
the University of Arizona.
Danette Gerald Howard is the Director of Research and Policy Analysis for the
Maryland Higher Education Commission.
Copyright © 2011 by The Journal of the Professoriate, an affiliate of the Center for
African American Research and Policy. All Rights Reserved (ISSN 1556-7699)
Underrepresentation in the Academy
and the Institutional Climate for
Faculty Diversity
Sharon L. Fries-Britt
University of Maryland, College Park
Heather T. Rowan-Kenyon
Boston College
Laura W. Perna
University of Pennsylvania
Jeffrey F. Milem
University of Arizona
Danette Gerald Howard
Maryland Higher Education Commission
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to explore the current racial
climate for Black and Hispanic faculty at three predominantly White
flagship universities with regard to the climate for faculty diversity
and diversity discourse. The research paradigm was qualitative
using evaluative case study method (Yin, 2009) to study faculty at the
University of Georgia, University of Maryland at College Park, and
the University of Texas at Austin. The study was situated in Hurtado
and colleagues’ campus climate framework (Hurtado, Milem, &
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 2
Clayton-Pederson, 1998; Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Peterson, &
Allen, 1999; Milem, Dey, & White, 2004; Milem, Chang, & Antonio,
2005) and Chang’s (2002) notion of transformative discourse. The
primary data sources were face-to-face interviews and focus group
discussions with faculty, provosts, chief diversity officers, and senior
academic administrators to understand campus climate and each
campuses effort and commitment to diversity. The data were
analyzed using content analysis. The findings focus on the overall
campus climate, recruitment, retention, and institutional support for
Although the number of full-time faculty of color increased by 50
percent between 1993 and 2003, people of color still account for less
than 20 percent of all full-time faculty (Cook & Cordova, 2006). In fact,
faculty of color at predominantly White institutions of higher education
represents a substantially disproportionately smaller percentage than
students of color at these institutions. In fall 2005, Blacks, Hispanics,
Asians, and American Indians together represented 15.5% of all faculty
and instructional staff at colleges and universities nationwide (National
Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2007). By comparison, students
of color, including Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and American Indians,
represented 31% of total enrollment, and 32% of total undergraduate
enrollment in fall 2005 (NCES, 2007).
One common explanation for the slow progress in increasing the
representation of people of color among the nation‘s faculty is that the
―supply‖ of qualified individuals, that is, individuals of color with
doctoral degrees, is insufficient (Allen, Epps, Guillory, Suh, & Bonous-
Hammarth, 2000; Perna, Fries-Britt, Gerald, Rowan-Kenyon, & Milem,
2008; Smith, Wolf, & Busenberg, 1996). Consistent with this
explanation, Perna et al. (2008) found that Blacks and Hispanics
experienced greater equity among ―entry level‖ faculty positions (e.g.,
assistant professors, tenure track faculty) than among doctoral recipients.
That is, when using Bensimon, Hao, & Bustillos‘ (2006) equity indices,
the ratio of the representation of faculty to the representation of
bachelor‘s degree recipients, the equity indices for Black assistant
professors and tenure track faculty are higher than the equity indices for
Black doctoral completions at public four-year institutions in the three
states (Perna et al., 2008).
Underrepresentation in the Academy/Fries-Britt et al. 3
However, an inadequate pipeline is not the only force that restricts the
representation of faculty of color among the nation‘s colleges and
universities. Villalpando and Bernal (2002) warn against
overemphasizing the ―pipeline problem as the sole explanation of an
underrepresentation of faculty of color on college and university
campuses and recommended exploring the role of institutional policies
and practices beyond doctoral-degree production. Suggesting the merits
of this recommendation, Perna et al. (2008) found greater equity for
Blacks and Hispanics among assistant than full professors and among
tenure-track than tenured faculty. Other scholars have concluded that
discrimination on campuses continues to restrict the recruiting, hiring,
and retaining of African American faculty members (Allen et al., 2002;
Smith et al., 1996; Villalpando & Bernal, 2002).
Research also suggests the importance of attending to an institution‘s
climate for diversity (Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Pedersen, & Allen, 1998)
and diversity discourse (Chang, 2002) in order to increase the
representation of faculty of color. These perspectives stress the need to
move beyond ―compositional diversity, or the numerical representation
of faculty of color, to explore the forces that may create a poor climate
for faculty of color on campus. Some researchers have concluded that
faculty of color perceived an uncomfortable campus climate and that
rhetoric regarding campus diversity was not put into action (Smith et al.,
This paper is one product of a larger project whose goal was to expand
the discourse on affirmative action, diversity, and civil rights in public
higher education, civil rights communities, and public policy arenas in 19
southern and southern-border states that, prior to the 1954 Brown v.
Board of Education Supreme Court decision, operated on a racially
segregated basis. The original study included four larger research and
policy analysis projects: (a) an analysis of trends in race and ethnic
equity in higher education enrollment and employment, (b) an
examination of state-sponsored race and ethnic equity and diversity
programs, (c) an analysis of Title VI enforcement by the U.S. Office of
Civil Rights (OCR), and (d) an analysis of campus-based race and ethnic
equity and diversity programs at three public flagship universities. While
the other projects provide contextual information, the latter project is the
focus of this paper. The current researchers examined data gathered from
case studies of three public flagship universities to explore the
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 4
institutional climate for faculty diversity. Our analyses focus on public
flagship universities in three (i.e., Georgia, Maryland, and Texas) of the
nineteen southern and southern-border states that, prior to the 1954
Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, operated on a
racially segregated basis.
Literature Review
Students benefit from attending institutions with a diverse faculty.
Research shows that a diverse faculty is more likely to utilize the range
of pedagogical techniques that help ensure an engaging learning
environment for all students and provide additional support and
mentoring for students of color at the institution (Cole & Barber, 2003;
Hurtado, 2001; Smith, 1989). For example, Umbach (2006), in his
examination of faculty at 134 colleges and universities, found that the
number of faculty of color on these campuses was positively related to
student learning, as faculty of color were more likely than other faculty
to employ active learning, increase diverse interactions, and emphasize
higher order thinking. More faculty frequently engage in effective
educational practices at institutions with more rather than less diverse
faculty (Umbach, 2006).
While students benefit from a diverse faculty, various challenges limit
the presence of faculty of color, especially at predominately White
institutions (PWIs). Stanley (2006a, 2006b) identified aspects of
teaching, mentoring, service, and racism that contribute to a ―chilly‖
climate for faculty of color. Other research also illustrates the challenges
that faculty of color experience with regard to teaching (Harlow, 2003).
Harlow (2003) found that classroom work was more complex for Black
than for White faculty at a PWI because Black faculty were required to
negotiate their devalued racial status in the classroom. She found that this
emotional management often increased the amount of work required to
be effective in the classroom, as Black faculty often felt the need to be
overly prepared or perfect so that students, especially White students,
would see them as credible and not just an affirmative action hire.
Stanley (2006a, 2006b) found that students more frequently questioned
the authority of Black than White faculty, especially with regard to
integrating diversity issues into courses. Although, most faculty of color
reported that teaching was enjoyable and satisfying, and a key reason
why many decided to follow the faculty route (Stanley, 2006a; Turner &
Underrepresentation in the Academy/Fries-Britt et al. 5
Myers, 2000), faculty of color also struggled with constantly feeling
under a microscope and needing to be able to succeed beyond their
White peers in order to be equal (Turner, Myers, & Creswell, 1999).
Discrimination and racism also contribute to a chilly climate for faculty
of color and their retention (Johnsrud & Sadao, 1998; Reyes & Halcón,
1988). Reyes and Halcón (1988) reported that, when faculty of color
experience racism, their options are to give in and assimilate to White
academic culture so that they can be successful at an institution, give up
after they pour all their energy into struggling against racism until they
experience burnout, move on by picking battles and biding their time
until better opportunities open up, or fight back by persevering and
learning how to work the system or trying to prove the oppressor wrong
at every opportunity. In short, most of these options include either
leaving the institution or putting aside their own identity at some point.
Many junior faculty of color at PWIs experience a pull between working
to meet the requirements of tenure and providing a support system for
students of color, a focus that is rarely recognized in the tenure process
(Blackwell, 1996; Stanley, 2006b). Stanley (2006b) found that, while
faculty of color are encouraged to participate in service activities to be
good citizens and alleviate isolation, it is a challenge to balance these
requests with advancing one‘s scholarly agenda. Butler-Purry (2006)
shared her experience of serving on many committees due to the fact that
a ―diverse‖ committee was needed, and she was one of only a few faculty
of color in her school. These ―extra‖ responsibilities can lead faculty of
color to experience higher levels of stress, especially related to research
and service, than White faculty members (Smith & Witt, 1993). Because
time is finite, assuming extra advising and service responsibilities also
limits the time that faculty of color have available for research, the most
important criterion for tenure at most flagship PWIs.
Strong mentors, even cross-race mentorship experiences have been found
to be a great benefit to faculty of color in learning the ways of the
institution (Butler-Perry, 2006; Stanley & Lincoln, 2005). Nonetheless,
Turner et al. (1999) found in their mixed-methods study that faculty of
color in the Midwest typically perceived isolation, unsupportive work
environments, and lack of information and mentoring, with some faculty
reporting that others have told, at various points in their career, that they
did not fit the profile of tenured faculty. Research also found that faculty
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 6
were given mixed messages from mentors, and often felt invisible on
campus (Stanley, 2006a).
Conceptual Framework
The campus racial climate framework was originally developed by
Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Pedersen (1998); Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-
Pedersen and Allen (1999); and modified in work by Milem, Dey, and
White (2004) and Milem, Chang, and Antonio (2005). The campus
climate framework asserts that the climate for diversity on individual
campuses is shaped by the interaction of a series of external and internal
(or institutional) forces (Hurtado et al., 1998; Hurtado et al., 1999;
Milem et al., 2004; Milem et al., 2005). The external forces affecting the
campus climate include governmental policy, programs, and initiatives as
well as socio-historical forces. While these forces occur ―outside‖ of
college campuses, they stimulate discussions or other activities that occur
on campus.
The framework specifies five internal dimensions that result from the
educational programs and practices at an institution: (a) compositional
diversity, (b) historical legacy of inclusion or exclusion, (c)
psychological climate, (d) behavioral climate, and (e)
organizational/structural aspect. Compositional diversity refers to the
numerical and proportional representation of various racial and ethnic
groups on a campus. In earlier versions of the framework (e.g., Hurtado
et al., 1998; Hurtado et al., 1999) this dimension was termed structural
diversity; however, Milem, Dey, and White (2004) argued that the term
compositional diversity is a more accurate descriptor of the numerical
and proportional composition of the campus. The historical legacy of
inclusion or exclusion points to the historical vestiges of segregated
schools and colleges which continue to affect the climate for racial and
ethnic diversity on college campuses. The psychological dimension of
campus climate includes views about inter-group relations as well as
institutional responses to diversity, perceptions of discrimination or
racial conflict, and attitudes toward individuals from different racial and
ethnic backgrounds. The behavioral dimension of campus climate
consists of the status of social interaction on the campus, the nature of
interactions between and among individuals from different racial and
ethnic backgrounds, and the quality of intergroup relations (Hurtado et
al., 1998; Hurtado et al., 1999). The organizational/structural dimension
Underrepresentation in the Academy/Fries-Britt et al. 7
of climate is reflected in the curriculum; in campus decision-making
practices related to budget allocations, reward structures, hiring
practices, admissions practices, and tenure decisions; and in other
important structures and processes that guide the day-to-day business of
our campuses.
Chang (2002) asserted that two main types of discourse dominate
approaches to diversity in higher education: a discourse of preservation
and a discourse of transformation. A discourse of preservation has as its
key (if not exclusive) focus, increasing the compositional diversity of
campuses. Somewhat paradoxically, Chang (2002) argued that a
discourse of preservation is limiting because it overlooks the full
historical development of diversity-related efforts on college campuses,
focuses on admissions as the primary goal, and ignores the
transformative aims of diversity, thereby underestimating the impact that
diversity can have on student learning.
Chang (2002) argues that, with regard to campus diversity, institutions
should engage in a discourse of transformation, which not only includes
attention to compositional changes, but also recognizes that deeper forms
of institutional change are critically important. This form of discourse
can be very challenging because the transformative aims of diversity
often clash with deep-seated institutional assumptions and values. The
educational benefits of diversity emanate from institutional changes that
challenge prevailing educational sensibilities and that enhance
educational participation for all groups. Chang asserts that, when the
discourse about campus diversity is transformative, the following
questions shape discussions about campus diversity: Who deserves an
opportunity to learn? How is the potential for learning evaluated? What
is learned? Who decides what is important to learn? Who oversees
learning? What conditions advance learning for all students? When
diversity discussions focus on these broader fundamental issues they are
more likely to change the values of a campus to support diversity. These
changes can benefit faculty of color who are more likely to be supported
in their teaching and research on campuses that ask deeper questions.
Even more important they are likely to be valued as members of the
community and feel like their contributions matter.
While instances of a chilly climate for faculty of color have been well
documented in prior research, this issue has not been explored through
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 8
the framework of campus racial climate. The campus racial climate
framework provides a broad context from which to explore the racial
experiences of faculty of color by drawing on institutional as well as
personal factors that impact the climate of a campus. Hurtado et al.
(1999) submit that the framework, ―...provides a conceptual handle for
understanding an element of the environment that was once thought too
complex to comprehend‖ (p. 3). Understanding the campus racial climate
was central to this work however we also wanted to evaluate the
language used by the informants as they talked about diversity as a way
of determining if the efforts of the campus were status quo or
transformative. Because we were interviewing senior administrators
(e.g., provosts, vice presidents and directors) and key faculty engaged in
diversity programs we felt their language would likely reflect the values
and beliefs of the institution. At the very least we felt that their use of
terminology and the examples they provided would offer insight into the
institutions‘ progress on diversity. Chang‘s (2002) framework of
transformative discourse provided an important lens for evaluating
faculty and administrator discourse about diversity in the interviews with
informants we were able to examine what they said about their campuses
initiatives and the examples they offered for how their campus changed.
Essentially we used Chang‘s framework as a compliment to the campus
racial climate framework to assess how much transformation occurred
thus two conceptual frameworks guide the analyses in this study.
This study uses multiple descriptive case studies to explore the current
racial climate for Black and Hispanic faculty at three flagship
universities with regard to the climate for faculty diversity and diversity
discourse. Using the above-mentioned frameworks as a guide, this study
addresses the following questions: How does the campus climate
contribute to underrepresentation of Black and Hispanic faculty in the
academy? How do faculty and administrators at the public flagship
institutions in Georgia, Maryland, and Texas perceive the institutional
climate and the work environment for faculty of color? In this study we
were informed by the experiences of senior administrators.
Understanding the challenges and opportunities that administrators
encounter in promoting a positive racial climate on campus and helping
to recruit faculty fills an important gap in the literature.
Underrepresentation in the Academy/Fries-Britt et al. 9
Merriam (2009) defines a case study ―as the product of…an intensive,
holistic description and analysis of a single entity, phenomenon, or social
unit‖ (p. 46). Case study research allows the researcher to define and
pinpoint the unit of study or bounded context, which in these cases are
the individual institutions (Merriam, 2009). Case study methodology is
appropriate given our interest in understanding how various forces shape
the institutional climate for faculty diversity (Yin, 2009). In this study,
we identified each flagship campus as a unit of study that we evaluated
separately, and then conducted interviews with informants at the
We address the research questions using case studies of a public flagship
institution in each of the three states: Georgia, Maryland, and Texas. The
case studies were designed to develop a deeper understanding of faculty
and administrator perceptions of the campus racial climate on these three
public flagship campuses.
We purposively selected these three public flagship universities based on
indicators that describe the ability of these institutions to attract and
retain a diverse student and faculty population, the characteristics of the
state higher education policies, and the degree to which various
diversity-related initiatives are present at the institution. Georgia,
Maryland, and Texas are three of the 19 southern and southern-border
states that, prior to the 1954 Brown et al. v. Board of Education Supreme
Court decision, operated on a racially segregated basis.
The case studies focus on public flagship institutions for several reasons.
First, as the ―public elites‖ in their states, public flagship institutions
have the potential to play a central role in advancing a state‘s (and the
nation‘s) progress on race, equity, and diversity. They tend to have more
resources than other public institutions in the state and they tend to
employ highly competitive admission practices. Graduating from a
flagship institution confers significant benefits to alumni who gain
recognition for gaining a degree at one of the premier institutions in the
state. Even more important, alumni from the public flagships are more
likely to assume major leadership roles in these states and often serve as
state legislators, members of Boards of Trustees, and members of higher
education coordinating bodies.
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 10
Because flagship campuses are generally well resourced compared to
other public institutions, with more highly ranked academic programs
and faculty, we believe that they should have greater responsibility for
preparing the leadership of the states and nation. Given the demographic
shifts occurring in the three states, and the United States more generally,
educating racially diverse leaders who can serve the needs of the
American public in health, medicine, law, education, science, math,
public affairs and the arts is imperative. In this post-affirmative action
period that is often characterized as having little to no federal oversight
regarding race equity and diversity (Williams, 1997), little is known
about the efforts of flagship universities on these issues.
Data Collection and Analysis
On each campus, semi-structured 60-minute individual interviews were
conducted with key senior officers and administrators. We also
conducted 90-minute focus group discussions with representatives of
such campus constituencies as faculty of color, undergraduate students of
color, graduate students of color, leaders of minority programs, student
government leaders, and campus administrators. Each individual
interview and focus group was recorded and transcribed.
The data in this paper are derived from interviews and focus groups with
faculty and senior administrators of color. The total sample from all three
campuses included 33 informants. Fourteen senior administrators
including provosts, chief diversity officers, and other senior academic
administrators were interviewed. The senior administrator sample was
comprised of four Black men and one Black woman, six White men and
one White woman, one Latino man, and one Asian woman. Nineteen
faculty of color, of whom nine were men and ten were women
participated in focus groups. More specifically, the faculty sample was
comprised of eight Black women, six Black men, two Latino men, one
Latina woman, one Asian woman, and one Asian man.
Reflecting Yin‘s (2009) emphasis on the role of theory in guiding case
study research, we developed data collection protocols based on the
conceptual frameworks (Chang, 2002; Hurtado et al., 1998; Hurtado et
al., 1999; Milem et al., 2004; Milem et al., 2005) with particular attention
to the internal and external forces that the frameworks and the literature
suggest impact race equity and diversity. The protocols focused on five
broad categories of external and internal forces: federal, state, campus,
Underrepresentation in the Academy/Fries-Britt et al. 11
community, and private sector/foundation. Under each of these
categories we asked additional questions pertaining to such topics as
peers, faculty, budget, and state policies. The focus group protocols for
students, faculty and administrators were slightly different to address
issues specific to each population. Similarly, the individual interviews
were tailored to address position-specific issues. Examples of standard
probes that were asked across all groups included: (1) Describe the major
institutional initiatives related to the institution‘s race equity and
diversity goals; and (2) How would you characterize the climate for
diversity on this campus? On what do you base this characterization?
The use of these protocols also helped ensure comparability of data
collection procedures across the three institutions (Yin, 2009).
The study uses content analyses of qualitative data collected through case
studies of three public flagship institutions to address the research
questions. The study uses the campus climate framework (Hurtado et al.,
1998; Hurtado et al., 1999; Milem et al., 2004; Milem et al., 2005) and
Chang‘s (2002) notion of discourse to frame the analyses.
To analyze the data, we created a database for each campus to organize
all the information that we collected (Yin, 2009). Each database included
transcriptions from individual interviews/focus group discussions, field
notes, campus documents and reports. We utilized QSR NVivo software
to assist in the coding and compiling of data into categories. We
developed a preliminary list of deductive codes for the larger project
using the conceptual frameworks and knowledge of the literature. The
coding process, conducted by multiple members of the research team,
also used inductive coding, to allow additional codes to emerge. After
themes were identified from the individual cases a cross-case analysis
was conducted to find common themes across the three cases.
Given the small number of faculty of color and senior administrators on
each campus, coupled with their high visibility, we were challenged with
how to present the findings without compromising the participants‘
identities. Certain details in their stories made it difficult at times to
camouflage their identities. In light of these challenges we report the
majority of the findings across all three campuses rather than addressing
each campus separately. On a few occasions we offer opposing
observations from several faculty and/or administrators on the same
campus to shed light on their different perceptions. In most instances we
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 12
identify the race/ethnicity and gender of the faculty member and on
occasion we report their discipline and/or areas of expertise to clarify the
meaning and context of a quote.
Multiple strategies were utilized to ensure the trustworthiness and
credibility of the findings and conclusions (Yin, 2009). To ensure
construct validity, we collected information from multiple sources
including participants with different perspectives on each campus (e.g.,
faculty, administrators) (Yin, 2009). The use of the case study protocol
and case study database also helped to ensure reliability (Yin, 2009), and
the inclusion of multiple cases enhances the external validity of the
findings (Merriam, 2009).
Interviews with the faculty and administrators reveal the challenges they
face as they work to change the campus and move the issue of diversity
forward in structural composition and campus programs. Without
exception, the faculty and administrators we interviewed acknowledged
some progress on their campus with regard to issues of racial climate and
diversity. Not surprisingly, participants talked about the progress and
challenges of their institution within their campuses‘ own unique
historical contexts, legal challenges, and structural diversity.
Nonetheless, participants‘ perceptions of campus racial climate varied
within and across institutions. The analyses show that all three public
flagships are concerned with the under-representation of faculty of color.
Each campus is engaged in efforts to increase the diversity of the faculty,
albeit with varying degrees of success. Interviews reveal uneven
experiences and concerns for institutional practices across the three
campuses. The participants shared their perceptions of the climate for
race, equity and diversity on their campuses, and how their perceptions
and experiences influenced the degree to which they, and their
colleagues, felt supported and valued in their department and the larger
Ideally, we would have liked to organize our findings using the same
categories in the two frameworks that guided the study. This was easier
in the case of the transformative discourse framework and somewhat
challenging with the campus racial climate. We found evidence for the
categories in both frameworks however because of the complexity and
Underrepresentation in the Academy/Fries-Britt et al. 13
interconnectedness of the factors in the racial climate framework it was
difficult to use the original categories as a way to organize the themes.
Faculty and administrators often discussed the elements interchangeably
therefore making it difficult to create absolute distinctions. The concept
of transformative discourse we found as a useful category in the analysis
of our data and we turn to this analysis in the conclusion. We believe the
themes we use to report the findings reflect the components in both
frameworks and certainly the spirit of each. Finally, we found that the
themes we use to organize the findings allow greater flexibility in
reporting the findings and they accurately portray the context in which
faculty and administrators raised these issues. Given these considerations
we organized the findings around (a) overall campus climate and
commitment to diversity, (b) recruitment, hiring and retention practices,
and (c) institutional support for research interests and implications for
promotion and tenure.
Overall Campus Climate and Commitment to Diversity
Some faculty and administrators perceived substantial institutional
commitment to issues of race equity and diversity. However, several
administrators noted challenges working with faculty to realize
improvements in the campus climate for diversity on campus. One senior
Black male administrator shared that, on his campus, it was very difficult
to get majority faculty to really be committed to issues of diversity. Of
all the campus constituents he talks to about diversity he felt that the
faculty were the most difficult saying:
You know, it‘s strange, but my greatest challenge comes from the
faculty themselves. Whenever I go to meet with different faculty
groups, we have extremely diverse discussions about this very topic,
and we often have some serious disagreements…I‘ve come to the
conclusion that university faculty [are] more conservative than most
groups that I‘ve dealt with; they resist change, and they want to go
about conducting business as they‘ve always conducted it, and it has
not been successful in terms of changing the composition of the
While most administrators described challenges in working with faculty
to improve campus climate, a few administrators also pointed to other
challenges that limit efforts to improve campus diversity. For example, a
White female administrator did not encounter resistance from the faculty.
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 14
Rather, she noted that challenges of diversifying the composition of her
faculty historically were related to the relative attractiveness of the
geographic location of her institution to faculty of color. Although she
once believed that the surrounding city reduced the success of her
campus in recruiting faculty of color, she now believes that the location
of her university is more attractive to faculty of color. She shared:
when I used to look at the data in the 70s, we made job offers, and
faculty of color and women would turn them down in greater
numbers than White males because they had other places to go, and
the African-Americansparticularly women more so than men
had a really tough time coming here. And it wasn‘t that the
university wasn‘t hospitable, it was that the city didn‘t feel real
comfortable. But that‘s getting better.
This change in the attractiveness of the geographic location likely
reflects changes in the development that has occurred around her
university in the past 30 years. The number of diverse individuals
moving to the area, as well as the overall expansion in the city and
surrounding counties to include a wide range of businesses and services
appears to have increased the likelihood that candidates of color will see
opportunities professionally and personally.
The faculty we interviewed had different perceptions of the level of
commitment of their campus to diversity, based on their departmental
experiences and their experiences of not being rewarded for the work
they do. Several faculty observed a disconnect between the overall
institutional commitment to diversity and their department‘s commitment
to diversity. A Black female professor in African American Studies
expressed that her department was responsible for carrying a lot of the
load for meeting the university‘s diversity effort (e.g., offering classes to
meet the institution‘s diversity requirement and admitting a large number
of students of color from diverse backgrounds) but she felt that she
received little recognition for these efforts in part because they were in
African American Studies. She felt that, the commitment to diversity is
not always fully shared or fully implemented on a departmental level.‖
Using different words, a faculty member at another institution expressed
similar thoughts:
Underrepresentation in the Academy/Fries-Britt et al. 15
I‘ve taken some leadership in my college in trying to do some
college-wide diversity initiatives. We have a standing diversity
committee in our college. But the point is that none of those efforts
are rewarded, and [with] the system of rewards, there are limits in
terms of how my colleagues will approach the whole issue. What‘s
in it for them? This is a whole system of rewards/benefits whether
it‘s financial, promotion, all of it. So the other component to our
dismal system of our student diversity is our faculty. I know we pick
up a few each year, but we lose more.
Similarly, an Asian male professor commented that the degree of
commitment to issues of diversity was less evident in his home
department than in other places on campus, where there seemed to be
greater concern for issues of social justice:
my home department reflects the institution of old, and on the
surface does not appear to be very progressive. It pays lip service to
diversity in some ways, then on the other side I know that I work
with other programs and the work that we have outlined with social
justice and betterment is happening. Depending on the area it is
isolated and there are pockets where people are reaching out to
communities and reaching out to help students. But I think it is not
enough. How do we bring all of those together? There are missed
opportunities for bringing it all together as a whole.
In contrast to both of these perspectives, a Black male who was a
member of the same campus as the Asian male felt that his campus
demonstrated a high degree of commitment to issues of diversity. He
On this campus, in the department and in the college, there is a pretty
sophisticated level of discourse about diversity. It is ongoing this
conversation about diversity, about social justice, about race, about
class. Iit is encouraging that at least the conversation is happening.
I think it is a campus wide conversation and there seems to be a real
commitment to these issues.
Although the two male professors initially described the climate of their
campus differently, the missed opportunities for bringing together the
work that people were doing on issues of social justice and diversity
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 16
described by the Asian male were similar to concerns later expressed by
the Black male who shared that, the challenge is, are there structures
in place to support the development of programs and other things to
support these ideals?‖ Although this Black man applauded the work of
his campus, he recognized that his institution faced major challenges
with regard to creating structures that support programs born out of race
equity and diversity discussions.
Some faculty associated the improvement of their campus climate with
hiring of faculty of color. Increased compositional diversity mattered in
the day-to-day interactions and work environment of faculty of color. In
some cases the increased compositional diversity may have been the
difference between one or two faculty of color in a department. A Black
female professor reminisced about the days when her department had
several professors of color. She described that, over time, they left and
the department became a different place to work. With a degree of
melancholy, she observed that she was the only one left in the
department. She was clear in her preference in working on a campus with
a greater number of faculty of color because it made for a better climate.
Similarly, an administrator commented on the low numbers of faculty of
color particularly Latino faculty on his campus and the impact that this
had on the climate and the ability of faculty to find others like
themselves. While he had many concernssome of which he did not
want included ―on the record‖—he does offer the following on-the-
record description of the challenges:
I don‘t know what a critical mass is, but because there‘s a limited
number ofsmaller number of Latino faculty, it may be really the
sense of isolation, exclusion, inability to work with people in other
disciplines who look like yourselves, you know. I think that‘s less of
a problem for blacks, but nonetheless, I think for bothin both
cases, mentoring is a problem, therefore, a sense that the climate, you
know, is not—I mean, the climate‘s not there for support—the kind
of support that they want.
Recruitment, Hiring and Retention of Faculty
Enhancing the underrepresentation of faculty of color requires attention
to the campus climate for recruiting, hiring, and retaining faculty of
color. Some informants were more knowledgeable than others about the
Underrepresentation in the Academy/Fries-Britt et al. 17
formal and informal efforts on their campus to recruit faculty of color,
and to educate the campus community about issues of race equity and
diversity. The senior administrators were more keenly aware than the
faculty of broader university policies and were able to shed light on the
challenges faced by the campus and different departments. Not
surprisingly many of the administrators acknowledged the long standing
problem of the ―pipeline‖ and efforts to find faculty of color in certain
fields like science, engineering and math. A senior White male
administrator who was sharing his frustration about the pipeline noted
that some fields and departments only want candidates from top
universities like an MIT or Cal Tech. These highly ranked institutions
represent a narrow margin of schools and are less likely to have diverse
candidates. He was frustrated with the priorities that seemed to be placed
on these environments as the way to fill the pipeline:
Part of it is priorities in terms of faculty hiring. Physics
departmentwe want people from Cal Tech. Well, okay, fine.
There‘s two people at Cal Tech—you know. We want people from
MIT, we want people from Michigan. Well—it‘s very, very
narrow…very, very narrow, and we haven‘t broken out of that in any
successful way.
A senior Black male administrator on another campus had similar
observations about institutional expectations and perceptions of the
degree-granting institution. He reported witnessing many occasions when
departments perceived a candidate as less qualified because of judgments
about the institution where a candidate earned their degree:
There‘s tacit assumptions made about, let us say … graduate degrees
that come from… historically black institutions. They sort of devalue
those degrees relative to a degree that may come from—I‘m not even
talking about a Harvard or a Yale, but that might come from [state
university], and so that‘s a problem.
The informants acknowledged the complexity and challenges involved in
recruiting, hiring and retaining a diverse faculty. They recognized that
the low representation of faculty of color could not be explained solely
by the actions of the university, but was also attributable to the decisions
and choices of faculty of color to leave the university (e.g., because of
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 18
competitive offers, administrative appointments, more money, better
Nonetheless, while faculty acknowledged multiple explanations for the
loss of professors, they also shared stories that reveal the institutional
forces that impede the success of faculty of color. For example, a Black
male faculty member shared that, when he was recruited, he was aware
that his college had not successfully retained or tenured a number of
Black professors. This information did not dissuade him from joining the
faculty but did cause him to wonder what was happening in the college.
Given the history of his department he felt it necessary to ask questions
about what the department was doing to address this issue. Under the
circumstances his questions seem reasonable. Nonetheless, he felt that,
when he asked these questions, he was met with ―curiosity and even a
resistance in asking the questions.‖ The resistance that this professor
experienced was not dissimilar to what a senior administrator on the
same campus observed as he talked about his efforts to get White faculty
to understand the importance of recruiting and hiring faculty of color. As
this administrator conveys his frustration, he explains how he tries to
persuade the faculty that it makes sense to diversify the search committee
so that they can have a balance but this recommendation is rejected as
So I spend sometimes an hour, two hours talking with these
people….The composition of the search committee—it makes
sense…to…have good ethnic and racial balance, but they don‘t see
it, some of these faculty. So I go to such a department, and we have
all White males, and I say, no, no, no, this is not going to work.
We‘re not going to search like this, you know. You‘re going to have
some diversity on the search committee.
Despite many obstacles, faculty of color are recruited to the professorate
but then they are faced with the challenge of learning how to navigate the
academic process. Oftentimes they turn to their colleagues for support
but these colleagues are not always sure how to help. This dilemma is
vividly expressed by an untenured Black male who was trying to support
a fellow faculty of color while trying to ensure his own survival. We
offer significant portions of his quote in several sections because it
reflects a rich description of the strain and pressure that faculty,
particularly faculty of color, often encounter in the academy. The quote
Underrepresentation in the Academy/Fries-Britt et al. 19
also conveys the anxiety that accompanies the process of succeeding in
an academic career:
I was talking to a junior faculty member in my department today, and
a person of color, and they were telling me that they were basically
paralyzed by the environment that exists, and because they were
given all sorts of advice on how to publish, where to publish, and
was basically told that they could not talk to certain people, they
could not associate with people outside of their field, so was
basically toldto be isolated, and only publish in the top journals in
the field, as a first year person, in order to be successful in the
department, and just got to a point after that first year where they
could not do anything.
In this first part of this quote, he is simply describing the experiences of
his colleague and the advice that she is receiving and how she feels un-
empowered by this advice. As he continues he begins to shift his concern
to his own survival realizing that he keeps being put in this position of
hearing the problems of his colleagues:
You know I am standing there watching saying, ‗Oh my God, what
am I going to do, and being put in this position over and over again.
Trying to figure out how to help people, when I am trying to figure
out how to help myself! As people come and go, I am trying to
actively talk to people about what they are experiencing and to offer
a different point of view, and one of the things this person told me
today is that they had to systematically ignore the advice they were
given in order to survive. And these are the people who are making
decisions about tenure of course, but the only way that person could
survive was to say, ‗Look, I have to carve out a path and figure out
what is best for me otherwise I am not going to be able to do this.
I try to support this person in trying to have a number of different
perspectives about her work. I think that has helped, but I am always
asking her, ‗Are you leaving? You are not looking for a job are
you?‘…I have come to expect that.
Embedded in this faculty member‘s comments is a powerful
juxtaposition of trying to figure out how to help people, while at the
same time trying to figure out how to help himself. Faculty of color have
fewer mentors and resources to draw upon for support. They often turn to
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 20
each other for guidance and direction. In so doing they share their stories,
and experiences, and while these interactions can be very important they
can also be discouraging when they learn about hostile and difficult
situations. The above example illustrates that, when a faculty member is
untenured and unsure of their own survival, it may be more difficult to
serve as a source of support. As in the case above the faculty member
stood there listening, but wondering, what was he going to do? At some
level the advice that his colleague received he believes also applies to
him by default. Moreover, he was concerned about losing a colleague
who was unhappy and he had been put in the position of listening to
similar concerns many times to the point that he began to expect this
person to leave hence his questions: ―are you leaving? You are not
looking for a job are you?‖
Institutional Support for Research Interests and Implications for
Promotion and Tenure
Interviews with faculty of color and senior administrators reveal that
many faculty perceive a lack of support for their research interests:
I think, you know, as a Research One institution, we don‘t give
legitimacy and voice to diversity as a scholarly pursuit in the same
way that we do other forms of scholarship or other topics of
scholarship. And so I know for faculty and for graduate students
especially, sometimes that becomes a barrier to their progression, to
their promotion and tenure.
This observation, offered by a senior administrator who was also a
tenured faculty member, reflects the sentiments of many of the faculty in
the study whose research agenda included work that addressed
racial/ethnic issues and/or sought to address issues that impact
underrepresented populations.
While the majority of the faculty in the sample were tenured professors,
a few were untenured. Despite their tenure status, they all shared
perceptions of how scholarship mattered in the promotion and tenure of
scholars of color. A Black female professor shared that she knew a
number of colleagues who left for reasons of better employment,
increases in salary, and promotion. However, as she shared these reasons,
she also noted, ―I think had they been valued for their many successes in
the same ways that other people are valued for successes in more
Underrepresentation in the Academy/Fries-Britt et al. 21
mainstream areas of research, they probably would have stayed.‖ She
expressed these concerns because she felt that, at elite research
universities, there is less legitimacy given to areas of research that deal
with diversity, and that faculty of color often pursue these lines of
inquiry. Similarly, another Black female commented:
I think we are still in an institution and a society where White is
superior, so knowledge looks a certain way and even people who
think of themselves as liberal and progressive, when they come down
to evaluating people, see it differently, are not challenged to think
differently or be self-reflective about it.
Commenting on her own research, yet another Black female shared that
she had conducted research on how certain journals were devalued over
others. She noted that the advice that people offered faculty of color
about where to publish their work creates unique pressure and stress that
faculty of color have to deal with when considering their scholarship.
She was particularly concerned about the stress because of the recent
deaths of several senior Black women on her campus that she and others
surmised was exacerbated by the stress in the academy:
I‘ve done work on the devaluation of certain journals. Don‘t do that,
you will get pigeonholed.... So we find ourselves saying okay, this
one is going to a journal we recognize, this one is not. Others do not
have to do that. And I think that is one of the differences, our
scholarship and the roles that we have because we embody certain
things we are expected to fill the slot. That is why there is
tremendous burnout. Tremendous levels of stress are causing Black
women professors to die.
Similarly, a Latino male described advice that he received from mentors
that discouraged his scholarly interests:
my interest [in] doing research on Latino issues really ended up
leading my faculty mentoring committee to discourage me from that,
to get done the stuff, but spread out into other things, and I tried, and
I think I didn‘t play to my strengths. And I think that led to me not
getting tenure. And to some extent, that‘s a real disappointment, but
it‘s not surprising because the school…has had a real tough time
getting junior people to go up through the ranks. In fact, only…I
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 22
think in the last 15 years or so…five or six people who‘ve come in as
junior, maybe only two have made it through the ranks. So it‘s not
unusual, but there was an added dimension of race diversity issues.
Faculty also talked about the ways in which the tenure and promotion of
faculty of color were impacted by the many roles they have on campus as
members of committees, working with students, and, in particular,
serving as mentors and role models for students of color. Although
faculty of color advise students from diverse backgrounds, they are likely
to have a large number of students of color seek them out for support and
advice. Oftentimes these students are not in their program and may even
be registered in another college. A few faculty noted that faculty of color
feel that they are expected to educate others.
Ultimately, faculty have to deal with the competing time demands of
these many roles and how spending time on these roles limits time for
research and other work that is rewarded in tenure and promotion
processes. Faculty are conflicted about the relative importance of
fulfilling these many roles versus conforming to the norms expected for
tenure and promotion. A Latino male argued that, at one level, he would
be happy not getting promoted. He questioned:
as faculty of color, are we somehow charged with a different mission
beyond just making associate/full professor? Because I do not think
that is enough for me. I do not feel that I have to be a full professor,
that I would be happy as an associate professor who is executing
what I want to do because I am a faculty member of color and there
are different agendas.
In contrast, a Black female colleague stressed the importance of pursuing
promotion to full professor. She argued:
if you want to make a difference in the academy, you need to
become a full professor. Because you have leverage at that level that
you do not have at another level. You have leverage to do something
about those people who are coming and leaving and being told all
this stuff.
Faculty did not uniformly report patterns of success in the promotion and
tenure of faculty of color in their department or on the campus. However,
Underrepresentation in the Academy/Fries-Britt et al. 23
one Black male administrator who was tenured at the university in the
1970‘s shared that his college had recently reached a milestone in the
tenure of three Black women. Commenting on the milestone for the
college and the importance of this decision, ―…which is a milestone,
given that there hadn‘t been a minority faculty tenured [in this
department] since I was tenured, and that was back in the late 70‘s. I
mean up through the ranks tenured. I mean, we bring people in tenured,
but going up through the ranks tenured.‖ This professor also identified
some recent history progress but discussed these successes with mixed
emotions recognizing that the particular field has a high number of
degree recipients of color and that the college had recruited a number of
minorities over the years but they had not been successful in retaining
At all three campuses, participants spoke with passion and deep concern
about the changes that needed to occur on their campus. In fact they were
very willing to share their personal concerns. Many of the stories had
similar themes such as providing additional resources and matching
funds from the colleges and recruiting top scholars of color. Although the
details of their stories differed, the central purpose was the sameto
support funding for diversity efforts to enhance the campus. Some
participants described efforts by their institutions to evaluate diversity
efforts, with one measure being the number of faculty of color who
received tenure. Typically, the numbers were low. A representative
comment was offered by one of the administrators who noted that,
―promotion rates of African-American faculty in the past eight or ten
yearsthe promotion rate has been really dismal. I mean, it‘s
disproportionately bad compared to the other people coming up.‖ At this
particular campus the administration has begun to hold people
accountable for these numbers. He went on to share that:
I think the most important thing that we‘re doing currently is to
establish a way of evaluating chairs and deans with respect to how
well they‘ve done in changing the composition of their faculty. And
we‘re looking at that very closely and making that a part of their
[evaluation process]. So it could conceivably impact the amount of
money they get each year, and that‘s the stick. And some are more
aggressive than others, and some, even that doesn‘t work. You know,
even that doesn‘t work.
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 24
Even with accountability measures in place, this administrator noted that
diversity was not increasing. On another campus the senior leadership
provided ample funding to diversity issues and tied the funding of certain
faculty positions to diversity. Essentially the desire is to put some ―teeth‖
behind the diversity initiative on the campus and to make it attractive for
people to work with the campuses diversity initiatives.
These types of incentive programs are not unusual and are often cited in
the literature (e.g., Kayes, 2006; Smith et al., 2004; Turner et al., 1999).
Yet, these efforts are rarely successful in solving the problem. Perhaps
some of the most important efforts are those that really create a climate
in which faculty members feel that they matter and that their scholarship
is valued. One senior administrator shared that on his campus they try to
celebrate the arrival of new faculty. Although this is a fairly universal
and basic practice, but perhaps what matters is the symbolism and how
genuine it is perceived by the faculty:
at the beginning of each year, we have something that may not seem
like an awful lot, but it‘s a celebration of new faculty, minority
faculty. The president comes, provost is there, almost all the senior
administrators, and all welooked at the kind of energy in the room,
and usually what everybody talks about when they‘re up in front of
that group is we‘re delighted to have you here, we hope we can do
everything we can to make your stay a first-rate experience. You‘re
welcome here. So it‘s a lot of symbolic work that‘s being done, and
as you walk around the room and talk with people, you sense that
they feel like we‘ve normalized them being a part of the University.
Some faculty were aware of special programs and pools of money on
their campus to support the hiring of scholars of color. Generally
sponsored by the Provost‘s office, these programs were given mixed
reviews. Several faculty were frustrated with the lack of efforts by
departments to utilize resources on campus to recruit candidates of color.
Even when departments were successful in using these monies to recruit
faculty of color they were still challenged in their ability to retain faculty
of color.
Underrepresentation in the Academy/Fries-Britt et al. 25
The results of this study provide a more nuanced understanding of the
experiences of faculty of color at public colleges and universities at three
public flagship institutions in higher education. Through interviews and
focus groups, the findings of this study confirm that some faculty of
color perceive an uncomfortable campus climate and suggest that these
perceptions are linked to barriers in recruitment and retention. This study
builds on prior research describing these barriers (e.g., Tierney &
Bensimon, 1996) using the campus racial climate framework first
developed by Hurtado, Milem, and Clayton-Pederson (1998) and
Chang‘s (2002) diversity discourse framework. Moreover, unlike other
studies, this study also provides insights into the struggles that senior
administrators face in achieving equity and diversity among faculty. We
recognize that interviews with 33 informants limit our ability to make
definitive conclusions across the three campuses. Nonetheless, because
many of the informants held senior level positions they had access to
institutional data and historical perspectives on the campus. Their
expertise and understanding of the campuses efforts with regard to race
equity and diversity enhanced the quality of the data we were able to
gather. Moreover, these data illustrate, and characterize, the barriers that
faculty of color encounter. The qualitative findings amplify quantitative
analyses (Perna et al., 2008) and confirm prior research on the
experiences of faculty of color (Allen et al., 2000; Bourguignon et
al.,1987; Johnsrud & Des Jarlas, 1994; Tierney & Bensimon, 1996).
The analyses show that understanding the recruitment and retention of
faculty of color is complex. Once faculty of color are recruited, they are
often overburdened with demands on their time from formal work
obligations such as advising loads, and formal committee assignments, as
well as informal requests to serve on panels, campus projects, and
community programs. They are sought out for mentoring by students of
color in, and outside, their program. Balancing the demands of research,
service, and teaching can be difficult. In many respects these challenges
are not unique to faculty of color but are also experienced by majority
White faculty. The difference for faculty of color is that the academy
often seeks representation of diverse groups on committees which means
that faculty of color tend to experience a type of cultural taxation that
Tierney and Bensimon (1996) submit work uniquely against them. The
comments of the faculty in this study reflect the cultural taxation that
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 26
comes from serving on diversity committees, mentoring, and advising
large numbers of students.
The findings also illustrate the failure of institutions to uniformly value
the research interests of faculty of color. This devaluing may contribute
to the lower levels of equity for Blacks and Latinos among full
professors than for assistant and associate professors, and for tenured
than for tenure track faculty, as described in other research (Perna et al.,
2008). The data reveal that professors of color perceive a lack of
institutional support for their research interests. Several faculty noted that
if they, or their colleagues, are engaged in research on minority issues
and/or race related topics, then they are less likely to receive support for
tenure and promotion. Other studies also show that minorities believe
that their research interests are devalued and often dismissed as self-
serving (Bourguignon et al., 1987; Turner & Myers, 2000). A related
finding is the conflicting advice that some faculty receive about where to
publish their work. These findings are important because faculty of color
tend to have fewer individuals who support and understand their work,
and fewer outlets for publishing their work in top-tier journals. The
extent to which faculty believe that their research is valued and
supported is significant to their sense of professional identity and their
decision to remain at an institution. On the surface, what may look like a
personal decision to leave may be masking subtle, and not so subtle,
pressure to find a better ―fit‖ for their intellectual interests.
Finally, the climate for race equity and diversity at the public flagships
continues to present challenges to the day to day interactions of faculty
of color. While previous scholarship indicates that increasing the
compositional diversity of a campus is an important first step in
improving campus climate, it cannot be the only step that is taken (e.g.,
see Hurtado et al., 1998; Hurtado et al., 1999; Milem et al., 2004; Milem
et al., 2005). Our analyses suggest that the dominant discourse regarding
campus diversity tends to be preservation (Chang, 2002) because the
discourse focuses almost exclusively on increasing the numbers of
students and faculty of color on the campus. How informants talked
about their campuses suggested preservation. They offered statements
like, ―my department reflects the institution of old…it pays lip service to
diversity‖. These statements were fairly representative. Hence, the
transformative aims of diversity are largely ignored, as are the important
questions that Chang (2002) asserts are raised as campuses become
Underrepresentation in the Academy/Fries-Britt et al. 27
increasingly diverse. We see evidence of a discourse of preservation
rather than transformation in the reports by faculty of experiences that
suggest that diversity initiatives on their campus are not consistently
valued, supported, or rewarded at the campus or departmental levels. We
see further evidence of the absence of a discourse of transformation in
faculty reports that the important work that they do, and the work done
by their peers, is not valued or rewarded by their institutions. Similarly
the comments of senior administrators reveal a discourse of preservation
on the campus. While several administrators noted that there had been
some progress over the years in improving the campus climate they
continued to face real challenges in diversifying the professoriate. They
talked about the difficulty of working with faculty on search committees
and described the faculty as resisting change and wanting to conduct
business as usual. These comments support the observations made by
faculty who faced a number of challenges at the departmental level.
On the other hand, a few informants described their campus as more
engaged and innovative in their approach to diversity. This view is best
illustrated by the comments of one faculty member who noted, ―there is a
pretty sophisticated level of discourse about diversity. It is ongoing this
conversation about diversity, about social justice, about race, about
class‖. These observations are promising because they suggest that the
discourse on diversity on this campus may have included those deeper
more meaningful questions posed by Chang (2002). Certainly sustained
conversations over time suggest a deepening of the dialogue and a
commitment to keep diversity central to mission of the campus.
Engaging in a discourse of transformation requires working diligently to
offer environments that value the contributions of all faculty and
recognize that diversity and excellence must not be separated
Implications for Policy, Practice and Research
With the recent Supreme Court litigation concerning affirmative action
in college admissions (i.e., Gratz et al. v. Bollinger et al., 2003, Grutter
v. Bollinger et al., 2003) the discourse regarding race equity and
diversity at institutions that were operated on a racially segregated basis
prior to the 1954 Brown et al. v. Board of Education Supreme Court
decision has been largely ignored. We hope that the results of this study
will help to renew and expand the discourse about race equity and
diversity in public higher education, civil rights communities, and public
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 28
policy arenas. The results of this study may be used to establish a context
for changes that need to occur, as well as to facilitate action by
stakeholders who are interested in creating a campus climate that is
inclusive and supportive of all faculty.
It is important for campuses to challenge and continually improve their
institutional culture on diversity. Diversity initiatives must be part of a
larger more comprehensive effort to extend the values of the university
to unconditionally recognize that excellence comes with diverse faculty,
students and staff. In so doing campuses are more likely to create the
kind of campus climate that is attractive to all members of the university
especially faculty of color. Genuine efforts in this regard are evidenced
in strategic planning documents that reflect a real commitment to
diversity though resource allocation and the development of programs.
Universities must increase equity in recruitment of Blacks and Hispanics
at PWIs. These campuses must also make conscious decisions to
promote equity and diversity in the faculty. Institutions that promote
diversity through the implementation of specific interventions such as
using non-traditional search processes, ensuring diverse search
committees, and having a diverse finalist pool are more likely than other
institutions to have a more diverse faculty (Smith, Turner, Osei-Kofi, &
Richards, 2004). To improve the recruitment of faculty of color,
institutions must break out of the narrow expectation that only certain
schools can produce top scholars. In this climate of institutional
competition, and quest for prestige, where institutional affiliations
translate into higher rankings and greater access to human talent, and
fiscal resources, faculty of color with less prestigious affiliations may
find greater scrutiny and less access to coveted academic positions.
Senior administrators have an important role to play in this process.
Despite the challenges they encounter they are often ambassadors for
diversity and promoting a campus climate of inclusion. They have
opportunities to talk with faculty in the search process to help shape the
discourse and they have access to fiscal resources to provide incentives
in hiring.
The racial/ethnic composition of faculty is determined not only by hiring
practices, but also by retention and promotion. Like other studies (Alex-
Assensoh, 2003), the results of this study show that colleges and
universities must not only focus on hiring more faculty of color, but also
Underrepresentation in the Academy/Fries-Britt et al. 29
on addressing the barriers that limit the success of faculty once they are
on campus (Alex-Assensoh, 2003). Tierney and Bensimon (1996)
recommended that, once faculty of color are hired, they should be treated
equitably and guided through the tenure process. Antonio (2003) also
recommended that having a diverse student body on the campus
contributes to a positive diversity climate and reduces the feelings of
isolation that faculty of color sometimes experience. Baez (2000)
recommended that institutions review how they classify service in
promotion and tenure policies, as part of a reconsideration of their
definition of merit.
If we are to achieve the goal of race equity and enhanced racial climate at
PWIs, the discourse regarding diversity on these campuses must shift
from a discourse of preservation to one of transformation. Institutional
leaders must be willing and able to answer the difficult questions that
Chang (2002) argues must be answered. Institutions that transform their
discourse on diversity will serve as models of excellence. American
research universities have always been held in high esteem (Vest, 2007).
MIT former President Charles M. Vest identified many factors that he
believes contribute to excellence in American higher education. Two
factors are worth recapping here because they are supported by our
commitment to diversity. He submits that what contributes to our
excellence is that:
We welcome students, scholars, and faculty from other countries.
They bring a defining quality of intellectual and cultural richness to
our institutions [and]… New assistant professors have the freedom to
choose what they teach and the topics of research and scholarship
they pursue. They are not subservient or apprenticed to senior
professors, so they bring to our institutions a constant flow of new
ideas, passions and approaches (Vest, 2007, p.7-8).
These observations are important for leaders in higher education to
understand, as they point to the role of human diversity and talent. Those
leaders who demonstrate a commitment to diversity are instrumental in
moving our campuses forward to serve in an educational context that is
increasingly diverse. These leaders must be acknowledged for work that
moves an institution to align campus reward structures to support equity
and diversity.
Journal of the Professoriate (5)1 30
Finally, we close with several observations for future research. First,
future research should include a wider range of Black and Latino/a
faculty who hold different academic rank and tenure status. Future
research should also include longitudinal studies to follow faculty
members over time to see how their institutional experiences differ from
year to year. Third, future research should explore the status of race
equity and diversity for other racial/ethnic groups, particularly Native
Americans and sub-groups within the Asian/Pacific Islander population.
Fourth, we need to continue to learn from senior administrators about the
strategies they utilize to help recruit faculty of color and to improve the
climate for faculty.
Alex-Assensoh, Y. (2003). Race in the academy: Moving beyond
diversity and toward the incorporation of faculty of color in
predominantly White colleges and universities. Journal of Black
Studies, 34, 5-11.
Allen, W.R., Epps, E.G., Guillory, E.A., Suh, S.A., & Bonous-
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... BIPOC faculty experience epistemic exclusion where their knowledge is devalued [42], which then has negative implications for faculty diversity [43]. BIPOC Faculty-and BIPOC women faculty in particular-are presumed incompetent [39], held to different standards, and endure higher levels of surveillance, scrutiny, and critique by white colleagues and students alike [11,[44][45][46][47]. BIPOC faculty also experience unjust expectations [40], including bearing the burden of diversity work on their campuses with little institutional support or recognition [48]. Race and racism are also significant in the experiences of BIPOC administrators, and the double burden of racism and sexism leads to a hostile campus climate for BIPOC women administrators [41,49]. ...
... Race and racism are also significant in the experiences of BIPOC administrators, and the double burden of racism and sexism leads to a hostile campus climate for BIPOC women administrators [41,49]. When efforts are made to disrupt the status quo, such as questioning institutional practices or advocating for equity, they are met with resistance [48]. Or, for example, when BIPOC faculty introduce critical pedagogies in the classroom, they encounter critiques that question their authority and credibility [11,47,50,51]. ...
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While the education of first-generation students (FGS) has garnered the attention of scholars, educators, and policy makers, there is limited dialogue on how first-generation faculty and administrators (FGF/A)—that is, first-generation students who went on to become faculty and/or administrators—experience higher education and are engaged in enhancing equity, inclusion, and justice. Intersectional approaches, which illuminate the nexus of race, gender, and class in education, are necessary for appreciating the complexity of FGF/A experiences and liberatory practices taking shape in higher education. Narrative analysis examining nine Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) FGF/A oral histories reveal how stories of mattering and intersectional marginality are sites of communal praxis that aim to dislodge systems of power, including racism, classism, and patriarchy. This praxis involves validating the complexity of students’ academic and social lives and engaging vulnerability. The discussion encourages reflection of how communal praxis can be cultivated toward transforming the linked conditions of faculty and students.
... Department of Education, 2013). Given the underrepresentation of faculty of color, particularly in the higher ranks, there has been increasing attention toward recruiting and retaining a diverse set of faculty members, including Black women, across disciplines in higher education (Fries-Britt, Rowan-Kenyon, Perna, Milem, & Howard, 2011;Gasman, Kim, & Ngyen, 2011;Myers, 2002). Our focus is not just on increasing numbers and status of Black women faculty but also on examining the context, culture, norms and assumptions embedded within the tenure system at predominantly White institutions (PWIs). ...
... Amidst increasingly louder calls for diversification of the faculty ranks in higher education (Fries-Britt et al., 2011;Gasman et al., 2011;Myers, 2002), there is a need to carefully consider ways that scholars of color are being welcomed into or excluded from full participation in the academy and the actual culture of the academy itself. This set of Black women's journeys on the tenure track was fraught with isolation and stress, much of which was linked to the women's race and gender. ...
Background/Context Amidst scholarship that underscores the importance of Black women faculty in higher education, Black women are often not being retained in faculty positions at research universities. There is a gap in the research relative to how Black women experience the tenure process at predominantly White institutions, and this may have important implications for both recruitment and retention of Black women faculty. Purpose This analysis attempts to fill a gap in the literature on the recruitment and retention of faculty of color by asking: What are the experiences of Black women faculty on the tenure track at PWIs who are the only woman of color faculty member in their academic program? Drawing on data from qualitative longitudinal research with Black women faculty who were on the tenure track at PWIs, the primary purpose of this analysis was to understand four Black women's longitudinal reflections on their journey toward tenure at PWIs where they are “othered” by gender and race. Setting and Participants This project was part of a larger study of 22 women faculty who were on tenure-lines in two predominantly White research universities. This study focused on four Black women from this larger study. Research Design This study employed a qualitative longitudinal research design. Data Collection and Analysis: As part of the qualitative longitudinal research design, interviews were conducted each year for five years with each participant. Findings The findings of this analysis with Black women faculty on the tenure-line suggests that despite being the only person of color in their academic programs, they found ways to use their voice in and outside the academy. Finding and using their voices in the academy became a way to push back and resist some of the isolation and racism that the women experienced in the academy, and often the women did so in collectivist spaces with other Black women. Conclusions/Recommendations These findings of this study call into question predominantly White and male spaces in academia and ways that these spaces should be challenged to change. The Black women in this study coped by creating collectivist spaces and finding/ using their voices. Rather than focusing on how to encourage Black women to cope and survive in academia, there should be more emphasis on how to change institutional and departmental structures to make these spaces more inclusive and collectivist.
... Themes in much of the scholarship on faculty of color since the 1990s are very similar to themes found in earlier scholarship. Scholars note that that faculty of color experience the academy differently than their white peers (Alex-Assensoh, 2017;Bonner, 2004;Brown, McHatton, & Scott, 2017;Dancy & Jean-Marie, 2014;Fries-Britt, Rowan-Kenyon, Perna, Milem, & Howard, 2011;Orelus, 2013;Stanley, 2006;Tillman, 2011;Tuitt, Hanna, Martinez, Salazar, & Griffin, 2009;Turner, González, & Wood, 2008;Zellers, Howard, & Barcic, 2008). That is, faculty of color are more likely to have negative experiences during the recruitment and hiring process, in their relationships with students and colleagues, and during the promotion and tenure process. ...
... Faculty of color are also more likely to face barriers to their career advancement (racism, sexism, lack of information and support, absence of mentoring relationships) than their white colleagues (Brown et al., 2017;Zambrana et al., 2015). Literature suggests that faculty of color are more likely to experience tensions in the workplace (Bonner, 2004;Fries-Britt et al., 2011;Gonzalez & Harris, 2014). For example, Bonner (2004) noted some universal themes that apply to Black faculty, and particularly Black faculty at PWIs. ...
Racial equity, providing equal opportunities and equal access to all members of an organization, is an important topic in higher education. The imperative for racial equity is particularly important for faculty of color, who often encounter challenges with respect to recruitment and hiring, promotion and tenure, and access to mentoring relationships that can help to facilitate their career success. Racial equity is directly related to several issues in higher education: increasing campus-wide racial diversity, increasing the pipeline of tenured faculty of color, and increasing the retention rates for faculty of color. Higher education administrators are important to the process of facilitating a campus culture that values, promotes, and practices racial equity.
... This is so deeply rooted that even women are socialized against women leaders. 30 An easy way to assess where you stand is to take a confidential online assessment of your biases, for example the Implicit Association Test. 31 If you are anything like me, you will struggle to accept your results. ...
... HURM oral health professionals, patients, dental educators, and student doctors often report barriers associated with "chilly campus climates" that lack support and openness. 30 Shared stories and reports of harassment, isolation, exclusion, and bias are detrimental to the physical and psychological safety of the oral health community. 31 One significant barrier contributing to a chilly climate is implicit bias. ...
Black people experience lower quality and lesser quantity of sleep than white people. Researchers, however, do not believe that racial disparities in sleep sufficiency are caused by biological differences, but rather by various social differences, such as differences in sleeping environments and socioeconomic status. Racial disparities in sleep sufficiency are a matter of social justice because sleep is important to mental and physical health, meaning racial disparities in sleep sufficiency can contribute to unequal and unjust disparities in overall health. Racial disparities in sleep may also be linked to other racial disparities in health that black people disproportionately experience such as hypertension and obesity. Sleep hygiene, common therapeutic advice given to help induce sleep, is often the first step to helping people sleep. Sleep hygiene, however, does not address the social, legal, cultural, and economic causes of racial disparities in sleep sufficiency. Sleep hygiene, as an ideal theory, addresses sleeplessness under ideal circumstances, only which a small group of privileged people live. Sleep hygiene ignores the unequal circumstances that contribute to some black people’s sleeplessness. Nonideal theory, however, acknowledges the less than ideal circumstances of certain groups, including people of color, and gives us a framework to develop solutions to racial disparities in sleep sufficiency.
... HURM oral health professionals, patients, dental educators, and student doctors often report barriers associated with "chilly campus climates" that lack support and openness. 30 Shared stories and reports of harassment, isolation, exclusion, and bias are detrimental to the physical and psychological safety of the oral health community. 31 One significant barrier contributing to a chilly climate is implicit bias. ...
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There has been a renewed focus on belonging and the essential role that it places in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, health professions education, and academic dentistry. Neuroscience has shown that humans are "wired to connect" to develop deep social connections. This article discusses the impact of COVID-19 restrictions and their effect on healthcare workers and dental education in furthering isolation and exclusion. The business case for belonging and the case for belonging in dental education are highlighted. The historical and contemporary consequences of consequences "othering" populations and marginalized groups are explored. Barriers to belonging and strategies and tips for strengthening social connections and belonging in the oral health profession and dental education are provided.
... The item stem specifies diversity, equity, and inclusion which implies systemic barriers to defmitions of diversity, historical contexts, and environments that are restrictive. The literature describes these environments to include chilly or hostile climates, overload or burnout, underrepresentation, inequitable evaluation, devaluation of research area, biases, stereotype threat, tokenism, micro-and-macro-aggressions, service taxation, meritocratic pressure to prove value, hierarchical structures of governance, and long standing bureaucratic practices (Carlone & Johnson, 2007;Ebony, McGee, & Bentley, 2017;Estrada, Woodcock, Hernandez, & Schultz, 2011;Fries-Britt et al., 2011;Rios, Copobiano, & Godwin, 2017;Rodriguez, Campbell, & Poloni, 2015;Steele, 1997;Turner, Gonzalez, & Wood, 2008;Zambrana et al., 2017). This scale contextualized 'faculty change agents for diversity' within the breadth of this research to guide item construction within the realities of faculty lived experience. ...
Thispublicationprovides an overview of the development of the Self-Efficacy as Faculty Change Agent/or Diversity (SE-FCA-D) scale. The 5-item scale recently appeared as an additional module on the Higher Education and Research Institute (HERi) Faculty Survey 2019-2020 for the JO BUILD programs within the Diversity Program Consortium that areparticipating in the Enhance Diversity Study, supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH U54GMI 19024). Thepiloted scale is meant to measure DPC Hallmark of Success FAC-16: "Strong self-efficacy to act as a change agent to enhance diversity in biomedical research and research training environments" (DPC, 2019). Once data are available, scale validation will movefonvard and.findings will be shared.
... Unsurprisingly, research demonstrates that disproportionate service loads and undervalued scholarship result in less research productivity (Eagan & Garvey, 2015), which, in turn, contributes to faculty of color being less likely to be promoted or in leadership (Agathangelou & Ling, 2002). Much work we read described universities largely silent on issues of diversity, creating painful experiences for people of color (Fries-Britt et al., 2011;Victorino et al., 2013). Institutional silence on diversity, however, is not our experience, though there are ways we still feel silenced by our institution's tokenization of us. ...
Women of Color in higher education often experience cultural taxation alongside feelings of invisibility and hypervisibility. In this paper, two women faculty of color use duoethnography, a dialogic research method, to unpack a shared journal that documented their own experiences of navigating and negotiating predominantly White academic spaces. By analyzing their experiences, the researchers discovered that their shared journal revealed similar patterns documented by other women faculty of color. The dialogic nature of duoethnography also led to transformational understandings of their positionality in the academy, self-healing, and development of strategies for moving forward. Vignettes from their shared journal and dialogic excerpts are discussed.
Objectives: The purpose of this paper is to describe the racialized barriers to recruiting and retaining historically underrepresented racially/ethnically diverse (HURE) faculty at U.S. dental schools and the linkages of these barriers to structural racism to assist dental schools in eliminating these hurdles through an antiracism framework. Methods: Data is used to describe the trends in the racial/ethnic composition of dental school faculty and the parity gaps by race/ethnicity between dentists and the U.S. Population: Literature on the recruitment and retention of faculty of color at higher education institutions is reviewed to identify challenges and best practices. Barriers to the full participation of HURE faculty, outlined in the American Dental Education Association's Faculty Diversity Toolkit, are also identified. Research on antiracism frameworks is also investigated to denote their uses and key components. Results: There is a critical shortage of HURE faculty at dental schools and active HURE dentists in the U.S. A history of racism and its legacy reinforce biases, stereotypes, and power structures that harm HURE faculty at U.S. dental schools. An anti-racism framework is needed to holistically eliminate inequities and racialized policies and practices that persists as barriers for HURE faculty. Conclusions: Increasing the representation of HURE dentists in the workforce and dental school faculty requires a major disruption to culture and institutional practices that mask centuries of structural racism embedded within complex academic systems. Dental schools must use antiracism models to create strategic initiatives that support a humanistic, equitable, and antiracism environment where HURE faculty can thrive.
Latinxs are the largest minority group in the United States, making up approximately 18% of the total population. Although there is a critical need for the behavioral health care system, including behavior analysts, to provide services to support the needs of the Latinx community, access to quality behavioral and mental health services continues to be lacking for the Black, Indigenous, and people of color populations. This article highlights some of the cultural and language factors that should be considered by behavior-analytic providers who have a shared responsibility to make culturally and linguistically appropriate services available to this population. Additionally, recommendations for systemic action across service providers, professional organizations, behavior-analytic training programs, and researchers are suggested to address these barriers. Recommendations for bringing about this systemic change are suggested across three domains: (a) increasing diversity in the behavior-analytic workforce, (b) enhancing training in cultural- and language-related issues, and (c) conducting research on cultural and language adaptations to behavior-analytic evidence-based treatments.
Purpose The purpose of this review article is to examine the well-being of faculty in higher education. Success in academia depends on productivity in research, teaching, and service to the university, and the workload model that excludes attention to the welfare of faculty members themselves contributes to stress and burnout. Importantly, student success and well-being is influenced largely by their faculty members, whose ability to inspire and lead depends on their own well-being. This review article underscores the importance of attending to the well-being of the people behind the productivity in higher education. Method This study is a narrative review of the literature about faculty well-being in higher education. The history of well-being in the workplace and academia, concepts of stress and well-being in higher education faculty, and evidence-based strategies to promote and cultivate faculty well-being were explored in the literature using electronic sources. Conclusions Faculty feel overburdened and pressured to work constantly to meet the demands of academia, and they strive for work–life balance. Faculty report stress and burnout related to excessively high expectations, financial pressures to obtain research funding, limited time to manage their workload, and a belief that individual progress is never sufficient. Faculty well-being is important for the individual and in support of scholarship and student outcomes. This article concludes with strategies to improve faculty well-being that incorporate an intentional focus on faculty members themselves, prioritize a community of well-being, and implement continuous high-quality professional learning.
Slippage in the educational pipeline significantly reduces the number of minority candidates available for faculty positions. Strategies for reducing that slippage include institutional commitment, early identification and recruitment, grow-your-own programs, and a variety of pre- and postdoctoral financial aid plans. Beyond employing more minority faculty members, institutions must develop sound retention strategies to ensure a positive environment for meeting tenure and promotion criteria. Minority faculty members can help institutions improve baccalaureate opportunities for all students through excellent teaching, mentoring, and intrusive advising. Abstract
On June 4, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson delivered the commencement address at Howard University titled "To Fulfill These Rights."... freedom is not enough. You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: Now you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire.... You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, "you are free to compete with all the others," and still justly believe that you have been completely fair. Thus it is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates. This is the next and the more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity. We seek not just legal equality but human ability. Not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and equality as a result.
The dream of public higher education in America is to provide opportunity for many and to offer transformative help to American communities and the economy. Expanding Opportunity in Higher Education explores the massive challenges facing California and the nation in realizing this goal during a time of enormous demographic change. The immediate focus on California is particularly appropriate given the size of the state-it educates one out of every nine students in the country-and its checkered political record with respect to civil rights and educational inequities. The book includes essays not only by academics looking at the state's educational system as a whole, but also by those within the policy system who are trying to keep it going in difficult times. The contributors show that the destiny of California, and the nation, rests on the courage of policymakers, both within the universities and within the government, to move aggressively to reclaim the hope of millions of students who can make enormous contributions to this society if only given the chance.
In this article, the authors modify and use the metaphor of "a wolf in sheep's clothing" as the theme in uncovering racism aimed at Chicanos in higher education. The authors, who are new to the academic profession, as are many Chicanos in the field, discover that the old wolf, racism, is as active in academia as in their previous educational settings. In elementary and secondary schools the wolf's disguises include educational tracking low expectations, and negative stereotypes. Chicanos who have overcome these obstacles and who are attempting to break into the faculties and administrations of U.S. higher education institutions are finding the wolf in a new wardrobe. The authors identify the various disguises used to hide racism by higher education faculties and administrations.
This mixed-method study, conducted in eight Midwestern states with the participation of 487 campuses, focuses on the workplace environment for faculty of color with particular attention to problems of recruitment, retention, and development. The findings emphasize the need to persevere in efforts to diversify higher education faculty.