“I’d like to look at six issues that we addressed in this report. First are the consequences that result from low minority faculty representation. Low minority faculty representation has obvious consequences simply by the fact that very few students have an opportunity to interact with minority faculty. The average student in the state outside the city of Chicago will have one African-American or Latino faculty on average in the course of his or her college education. This has consequences for student learning and success, particularly for underrepresented students. We know through research that retention improves if minority students have the opportunity to interact with minority faculty. Minority faculty also are able to bring real strengths in terms of diversifying the curriculum and increasing students’ knowledge and awareness of diverse populations. Such experiences are very important to all students as they graduate and go out into the job market and into their communities.
“Another consequence worth mentioning is how the lack of minority faculty representation affects higher education’s credibility with external audiences. We have no real research findings here, but one can’t help but wonder and ask the question, as the gap in race-ethnic distribution widens between our faculty on the one hand, and our leaders and general population on the other, what does that mean for the way in which higher education will be viewed and financially supported in the future?
“Finally, things are changing, but not fast enough. Female representation has gone from 34 to 39 percent over the last eight years. There has been about a 13 percent growth in African-American faculty, and Latino faculty have grown by about 40 percent. Given the current rate of growth for minority faculty, it will take more than 100 years for African-American and Latino faculty to equal their current representation in the state’s population. I think one has to conclude, therefore, that one can’t simply do business as usual.
“A second major issue is the need to improve the robustness of the pools of potential faculty. The doctoral pool is very shallow, meaning that approximately five percent of doctoral degree recipients in the state are African-American and two percent are Latino. Such low numbers have profound effects on our ability to recruit and increase our minority faculty. Indeed, this influence is so strong that in most of the research and ongoing conversations there is talk not of pools but of a pool. In fact, there are pools; there are other ways in which minority faculty in this state enter teaching positions. One is from the master’s degree, which is the minimum requirement for faculty positions at community colleges. In the past decade, there has been a tremendous growth in minority master’s degree recipients that really hasn’t been taken advantage of. We now have graduating each year in the state of Illinois 3,000 African-American and Latino master’s degree students. One of the reasons the growth in minority master’s degrees hasn’t been appropriately taken advantage of is that at graduate programs at universities, students are not informed of community college faculty job opportunities. They’re not encouraged and mentored and they’re not identified as being interested in these positions, so community colleges often aren’t aware of these minority master’s degree recipients as potential faculty.
“The nontenure-track pool is another very important source for institutional hiring, again particularly at the community college level, but also to a lesser degree at some public universities. One community college administrator told us that half of his hires on the tenure track were from the nontenure-track pool. We would like to point out an excellent Parkland College program for developing the nontenure-track pool. Parkland College seeks out individuals who are highly capable but lack experience, hires them on the nontenure track, and then mentors and supports them so they can be competitive for tenure track positions two years later.
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