The Academy in Color
Faculty of color face numerous challenges teaching at predominantly white institutions (PWI). Research suggests that White students often apply more stringent standards when assessing their credibility than they do assessing the credibility of White professors (Hendrix, 1997). Moreover, faculty of color often experience isolation and marginalization in their respective departments (McKay, 1983). In addition, they are usually asked to “diversify” many college committees, which adds stress to the already stressful tenure process (Smith, 1992). This paper examines these and other challenges that faculty of color face on PWI campuses. Additionally, this paper examines a recent incident at a small liberal arts college that sparked a tense online debate about diversity. A small group of senior faculty sent out a college-wide letter asking that the administration address the lack of African American new hires in recent years. Their contention was that many of the African American faculty currently teaching are nearing retirement age, and they have not seen an effort to hire more African American faculty to replace them. In response, some faculty members stated that they are doing the best that they can and it is not their fault that African Americans don’t apply; while some others wrote that African American faculty are not the only people of color not being adequately hired. As a result of the ongoing debate, a Diversity Task Force was formed to further examine hiring practices. Some perceived this an empty gesture to quiet the debate; while others believe it to be a genuine effort to address a national problem. Hence, the primary questions this paper will address are: (1) What are some of the challenges that faculty of color face teaching at PWIs? (2) What have campus administrators done to address these challenges?
Keywords: Faculty of Color, African American Faculty, Predominantly White Insitutions, Campus Diversity
Dr. Donnetrice Allison
Assistant Professor, Communication Studies, The Richard Stockton College