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Understanding the Influence of Faculty Diversity on Community College

The United States Census Bureau (2014) estimates that by the year 2060 the non-Hispanic White alone population will consist of less than 50% of the total U.S. population. As a result, these estimates indicate a majority-minority crossover in which the majority of the total population is made up of minority groups. Census data approximated the crossover to take place in 2044. Nevertheless, there will not be an individual group that will make up the majority of the total population, allowing the U.S. to “become a ‘plurality’ of racial and ethnic groups (Colby, 2014).” Looking forward to such an important shift in the makeup of the United States it is reasonable to look at public-serving institutions such as community colleges and universities to examine whether their current demographics are set up to reflect such a change within their faculty and staff. The impact of increased diversity in respected areas like higher education to match the upcoming rise of minorities is relevant to think about since diversity in student bodies has been an ongoing topic of discussion . However, faculty diversity has been left behind when its broader effects can push higher education to achieve inclusion.

Understanding the Influence of Faculty Diversity on Community College

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Faculty diversity is only a small piece in the bigger picture of inclusion within post-secondary education. Sociologist Marta Tienda, defines inclusion as “organizational strategies and practices that promote meaningful social and academic interactions among persons and groups who differ in their experiences, their views, and their traits” (2013). Ultimately, the interactions Tienda describes are what post-secondary institutions should strive for. Unfortunately, many colleges equate inclusion with possessing diverse bodies of both students and faculty. Even though “racial diversification of college ” Tienda agrees is a significant step towards inclusion, it is not sufficiently effective at reaping the benefits of inclusion (2013). When it comes to faculty diversity the outcome is no different yet, it can be counterproductive for colleges to become stagnant in expanding diversity of their professors.

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There is a substantial lack of representations on professors of color in college. A historian, Ben Myers wrote an article that specified that the average is 75 out of 100 full time faculty are white. Five percent are black and fewer are Hispanic and in private institutions are even less diverse (2016). According to the National Center for Statistics, the numbers of professors of color are extremely low. Throughout this paper, reasons to the problem of not having a diverse faculty will be discussed and researching if students care at Estrella Mountain provided by being taught by a professor of a different ethnicity to them personally. Professors of color will be seen by students of a minority group as someone to look up to. Professors with a relatable background to students, of a minority group, accomplished gives the students get a sense of belonging. There is a significant amount of diverse students at Estrella Mountain Community College. In total there are about 9,788 students enrolled within those students there is 53.2% Hispanics, 28.3% White, 1.2% American Indian or Alaskan Native, 3.4% Asian, 7% Black or African American. Having a more faculty of color could help students succeed in their academic careers.

A major problem with colleges is not hiring enough professors of color. Professors in colleges are primarily white and males, and not just in college by around the United States there are not enough faculty and leaders of color to represent the diverse this country was built on. If students are exposed with ethnically diverse set of professors have a more successful academic career, compared to the generic outcome. The National Center for Statistics (2016) observed that 76% of professors were white, 10% Asian/Pacific Islander, 6% Black, 5% Hispanic, and less than 1% of full-time faculty were either American Indian/Alaska Native or two or more races.. Internationally, the United States is seen as a significant embodiment of diversity but the National Center for Statistics (NCS) asserts a lack of diversity among professors in higher education. Diversity within student bodies has always been a topic of discussion concerning higher education institutions. Unfortunately, diversity among faculty has not received the equal amount of attention in college campuses.

Researchers Susan Basow, Stephanie Codos and Julie L. Martin conducted a study that used white, African American, male and female computer animated professors to study the effect of professor gender, professor race and student gender on student ratings of the amount learned in a lecture and teaching effectiveness. Basow, S.A., Codos, S., & Martin, J. L. gathered 325 students to watch a 3-minute lecture given by different animated professors. First, students were asked to rate the attractiveness of their professor. Next, the students completed both a 26 question evaluation of their professor and a 10 question true/false quiz on lecture content to determine if the ethnicity of their animated professor affected what they learned. Quiz results found the highest scores were obtained from the white animated professors. Basow deduced that higher scored were due to students paying more attention to the normative professor. If students had been exposed to professors that were not only white they would all score the same in the quizzes no matter who was giving the lecture (Basow, S. A., Codos, S., & Martin, J. L. (2013)). White faculty are viewed as authoritarian figures and perhaps the students were exclusively paying close attention to what they had to say.

Multiple articles show that students have written to bring awareness to people on the internet about this issue. There was a protest by students who attend the top public universities across the United States. They collected data from faculty rosters posted online and focused on six academic departments: biology, chemistry, economics, educational leadership, English and sociology. Three departments are STEM fields and three are not. They collected information from the faculty that includes basic demographics, qualifications and rank. One of the main reasons they wanted to do this is to improve outcomes of disadvantaged-minority and female students (Koedel, 2017).

Marybeth Gasman is a professor at University of Pennsylvania. She won a Provost Award for Distinguished Ph.D. When Gasman was asked why many institutions lack faculty of color, she responded with “We simply don’t want them” (Fulwood III, 2016). Gasman spoke about this and when the article went out in the Washington Post it attracted over 60,000 tweets. Gasman received emails and black people would say they thought the same and with her saying that they know they aren’t crazy for thinking what they’re experiencing. This quote is interesting because it explains why people should become more aware of this topic, “The nation’s college students benefit from learning from diverse faculty. Such interaction teaches students that all people can serve as models of intellectual authority and can provide students a visceral antidote to the myth of black intellectual inferiority” (Fulwood III, 2016). By learning from a diverse faculty students are more likely to learn from different backgrounds and different teaching styles. It will open their minds to the different cultures.

The percentages for professors of color aren’t matching with the number of students of color on these campuses. Public school teachers of color are 18% which is higher than the professors of color at universities. Having the students develop a positive relationship with their professors by understanding their home language or from the same background helps students succeed in life. Knowing someone like a professor made it from where they came from puts students in the right mindset to motivate them to achieve more. This is also important to white students because they could benefit from having their point of view challenged. Virginia Commonwealth University had passed a resolution in January 2017 to address the decline in black faculty over the years. In 2007, it was 6% of black faculty and currently it’s at 4% (Quinlan, 2015). VCU prides itself in diversity but In an article that was published in 2014 had stated that there are 564 white professors and 37 African American professors (Kapsidelis, 2014). Fighting for a more diverse faculty is part of a broader fight for racial equality on campus (Quinlan, 2015).

Many professors throughout the years have been declined tenure because of assumptions that weren’t true; but since professor are of color they don’t hesitate to do so. Professors of color feel that they can never be good enough to gain tenure if someone decides they don’t belong. There isn’t any national record on tenure denials to prove it. Even though these faculty have strong backing from colleagues or positive recommendations from peers some are denied because of some negative student evaluations of teaching. Professors may argue that evaluations and research suggests are highly subjective especially to women and minorities. Finding a good mentor is a key to success doesn’t mean it has to be the same race or gender (Flaherty, 2016). Underrepresented students look up to professors and often thanks them for being there because without them they wouldn’t be where they are now. Students need to feel that secure in school. Having more professors of color helps a lot. One third of the nation’s college students are people of color. Faculty of color feel overextended with mentoring too many students. Since there is a lot more students of color than faculty of color students tend to ask them and faculty do not feel right in saying they can’t mentor them. When faculty of color are hired, they are expected to occupy certain set of roles. Some roles are to serve as mentors, inspirations, and guide. Institutions don’t value what some may call “invisible labor” (Matthew, 2016).

At the University of Oregon, they spent over $1 million into recruiting diverse faculty. The percentage shifted 1 point in the three years they’ve been trying. The average percent for Association of American Universities is about 6 to 7 points since 2005 (Matsumoto & Cremer). White communities are often hostile places and when faculty of color get hired by a university mainly of white faculty it becomes harder for people to feel like they belong. Not having faculty of color can hurt students and they become less motivated. Students need to be able to visualize themselves and the issue of not having faculty of color will deeply affect the outcome. When numbers of faculty of color is already low it is hard to retain the faculty that is there already.

Methods

Participants

The participants for this study consisted of college students that attend Estrella Mountain Community College. We obtained a quota sample of different majors. In total we had 124 students who took the survey. A percentage of students were Hispanic and the other were Non-Hispanic students.

Materials

The aim was to determine if the achievement of students could fluctuate higher when there is a professor of color teaching the course. To obtain this measurement, participants were presented with a series of questions involving their ethnicity, age, GPA, how many years they’ve attended college, how many professors of color they’ve had, and asked their opinion on a scale of one to five, with a rating of one meaning “strongly disagree” a rating of five “strongly agree” and a rating of three signifying indifference. The series of questions are to described the students perceptions if they thought the college was diverse, if the faculty was diverse, comfortability scale when they have a problem if they would go to a professor that is the same ethnicity as them and if they see more white professors than professors of color. Last question was an open-ended asking if they believe having a professor of color matters to them.

Procedure

We emailed professors to see when they could have us in their classrooms to present our survey. On the day, we stood in front of a classroom and explained that our research study is about professors at Estrella Mountain Community College and if their ethnicity mattered in an educational setting. Participants were all able to access the online survey through their canvas provided by their professors in an announcement section. The survey was used to control how they could answer the questions. The survey is self-explanatory the participants all had to answer the questions honestly.

Results

We surveyed a total of 54 non-hispanic students and 70 hispanic students at Estrella Mountain Community College. An independent t-test found no significant effect on the ethnicity of students and the comfort level of students with professors of the same ethnicity p < 0.01 for the non hispanic participants standard error mean= 0.168 while the hispanic participants standard error mean was= 0.165.

Moreover we surveyed participants to find if there was any influence of student ethnicity on their preference for diversity among professors at Estrella. An independent t-test was conducted and no significant effect was found between ethnicity of students on their preference for diversity.

A one-way ANOVA found no significant effect between the number of past professors of color students have taken classes with and their overall self-reported GPA.

Finally, a one-way ANOVA found no significant effect between the number of past professors of color students have had and their comfort with professors of their same ethnicity.

A chi-square was conducted and found no significant effect between a student’s ethnicity and their perception of diversity among Estrella Mountain Community College faculty.

References

  1. Basow, S. A., Codos, S., & Martin, J. L. (2013). The Effects of Professors’ Race and Gender on Student Evaluations and Performance. College Student Journal, 47(2), 352-363.
  2. Book argues that faculty members of color going up for tenure are judged by different standard than white peers. (2016, November 29). Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/11/29/book-argues-faculty-members-color-going-tenure-are-judged-different-standard-white
  3. III, S. F. (2016, October 07). The United States Can’t Wait for More Professors of Color. Retrieved from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2016/10/07/145709/the-united-states-cant-wait-for-more-professors-of-color/
  4. Kapsidelis, K., & Richmond Times-Dispatch. (2014, December 28). Black faculty at VCU fight decline in their ranks. Retrieved from https://www.richmond.com/news/local/education/black-faculty-at-vcu-fight-decline-in-their-ranks/article_89d82c83-23b9-5a27-a26c-b1cd2e731438.html
  5. Koedel, C. (2017, November 01). Examining faculty diversity at America’s top public universities. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2017/10/05/examining-faculty-diversity-at-americas-top-public-universities/
  6. Matsumoto, S., & Cremer, A. (n.d.). Faculty of Color. Retrieved from https://dailyemerald.github.io/faculty-of-color/
  7. Matthew, P. A. (2016, November 23). What Is Faculty Diversity Worth to a University? Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/11/what-is-faculty-diversity-worth-to-a-university/508334/
  8. Mercado-Lopez, L. (2018, May 18). Want to Retain Faculty of Color? Support Them as Faculty of Color. Retrieved from https://medium.com/national-center-for-institutional-diversity/want-to-retain-faculty-of-color-support-them-as-faculty-of-color-9e7154ed618f
  9. The Condition of Education – Postsecondary Education – Postsecondary Institutions – Characteristics of Postsecondary Faculty – Indicator May (2018). (2018, May/June). Retrieved September/October, 2018, from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_csc.asp#info
  10. Where Are All The Professors Of Color? (2015, November 19). Retrieved from https://thinkprogress.org/where-are-all-the-professors-of-color-7a297a6dfec5/
  11. Booker, K. C. (2007). Perceptions of Classroom Belongingness among African American College Students. College Student Journal, 41(1), 178–186. Retrieved from http://libproxy.estrellamountain.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pbh&AN=24628947&site=ehost-live
  12. https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/where-are-the-minority-professors
  13. https://medium.com/national-center-for-institutional-diversity/the-power-of-academic-role-models-like-me-7f4f2c59279d

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Understanding the Influence of Faculty Diversity on Community College
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The United States Census Bureau (2014) estimates that by the year 2060 the non-Hispanic White alone population will consist of less than 50% of the total U.S. population[RGG1]. As a result, these estimates indicate a majority-minority crossover in which the majority of the total population is made up of minority groups. Census data approximated the crossover to take place in 2044. Nevertheless, there will not be an individual group that will make up the majority of the total population, allowing
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Understanding the Influence of Faculty Diversity on Community College
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