Here’s Why Universities Don’t Hire More Faculty of Color…Straight from an Ivy League Professor

Marybeth Gasman (Photo by Darryl Moran)
Marybeth Gasman (Photo by Darryl Moran)

In “The five things no one will tell you about why colleges don’t hire more faculty of color,” a piece first published in the Hechinger Report, Marybeth Gasman took on a common question: Why aren’t college faculties more racially diverse?

It’s a question gaining increased urgency from student protesters demanding change on campuses nationally.

Gasman is a professor of higher education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, where she directs the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions and holds secondary appointments in history, Africana studies, and the School of Social Policy and Practice.

— Susan Svrluga

 

While giving a talk about Minority Serving Institutions at a recent higher education forum, I was asked a question pertaining to the lack of faculty of color at many majority institutions, especially more elite institutions.

My response was frank: “The reason we don’t have more faculty of color among college faculty is that we don’t want them. We simply don’t want them.” Those in the audience were surprised by my candor and gave me a round of applause for the honesty.

Given the short amount of time I had on the stage, I couldn’t explain the evidence behind my statement. I will do so here. I have been a faculty member since 2000, working at several research universities. In addition, I give talks, conduct research and workshops and do consulting related to diversifying the faculty across the nation. I have learned a lot about faculty recruitment over 16 years and as a result of visiting many colleges and universities.

First, the word ‘quality’ is used to dismiss people of color who are otherwise competitive for faculty positions. Even those people on search committees that appear to be dedicated to access and equity will point to ‘quality’ or lack of ‘quality’ as a reason for not hiring a person of color.

Typically, ‘quality’ means that the person didn’t go to an elite institution for their Ph.D. or wasn’t mentored by a prominent person in the field. What people forget is that attending the elite institutions and being mentored by prominent people is linked to social capital and systemic racism ensures that people of color have less of it.

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Source: The Washington Post | Marybeth Gasman