“We demand that by the academic year 2017-2018, the University of Missouri increase the percentage of Black faculty and staff campus-wide to 10 percent.”
So reads the fifth item on the list of demands written by the Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 at the University of Missouri. Its’s an uncomfortable and unacceptable shame – nearly two decades into a new millennium – while scientists seek to travel to Mars and crash test self-driving cars – they work to integrate college and university faculty and administration remains undone.
If the University of Missouri abides by the Legion of Black Collegians demands and is able to increase the percentage of Black faculty to 10% the university will become a national exemplar.
A 2007 Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (JBHE) report – the most recent such study conducted on this issue – shows that few of the nation’s traditionally which institutions (TWIs) had achieved such level of diversity in the faculty ranks.
In fact, among top-tier state and private universities, the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa reported the highest percentage of Black faculty at 6.8%. By way of comparison, here are the statistics on Black faculty at other universities: Emory (6.8%), Columbia University (6.2%), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (5.9%), University of Michigan (5.4%), Northwestern (4.6%), Harvard (3.1%), University of California, Los Angeles (3.0%), and Yale University (2.9%). While the report was from nearly a decade ago, it somberly concluded that with the pact of change, “it will take about a century and a half for the percentage of African-American faculty to reach parity with the percentage of Blacks in the nation’s population.”
The majority of the nation’s tenured Black faculty are at historically Black colleges/universities (HBCUs). Most earned their doctoral or other terminal degrees at traditionally White institutions, but despite these credentials are not vigorously recruited or advanced in the ranks of tenured faculty in large numbers at Traditional White Institutions (TWIs). Remarkable, 96% of Black tenured faculty are at HBCus (even though HBCUs comprise only 3% of the nation’s 3000 colleges and universities). If HBCUs disappeared, so would most of the nation’s Black academics.
The myth that Black PhDs just don’t exist supports anemic institutional efforts at TWIs to recruit and tenure Black faculty. A 2012 National Center for Education Statistics report indicates an almost 43 percent increase in the award of PhDs to Blacks from about 7000 in 1999-2000 to slightly over 10,000 in 2009-2010. Yet, the average increase in Black faculty appointments at TWIs during the same period was about 1.3%. Sadly, the percentage of Black faculty at the nations’s TWIs averages out to a dismal 4% today.
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.