Study Finds Lack of Black Tenured Faculty at All Levels of Higher Education

According to a new study led by an incoming dean at the University of Kentucky, colleges and universities in the United States lack the diversity needed among faculty to deliver a well-rounded education.

“While reports have shown modest gains in faculty diversity through the years, most have been in untenured positions,” said Julian Vasquez Heilig, incoming dean of the University of Kentucky College of Education. “We wanted to take a closer look at the data and provide a more thorough description of faculty diversity. Across the board, we found the composition of faculty across the country is not keeping pace with the diversity of the U.S. population.”

For the study, the research team examined gender and ethnoracial faculty data from the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. The analysis broke institutions down by the highest level of degree granted and filtered the faculty data by tenure status. The results found that only 4.05 percent of tenured faculty at doctoral level institutions are Black. In fact, the enthnoracial diversity among tenured faculty continues to lag across all levels of higher education.

In addition to this numerical data, the research team also included an analysis of research focused on the benefits of faculty diversity in their study.

“We found nearly all research indicates diversity is associated with positive student outcomes,” Vasquez Heilig said. “While higher education has advanced programming and discourse around race, ethnicity, and gender, we must remove hidden barriers and take note of those who remain at the borders of academia. Our students are entering a professional world that is increasingly interconnected and diverse, and it is important they prepare for their futures in a similar environment. Our academic leaders and scholarly communities need to make more progress in diversifying our nation’s faculty.”

The full study, “Considering the Ethnoracial and Gender Diversity of Faculty in the United States College and University Intellectual Communities,” was published in the Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy. It may be accessed here.


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  1. Leonard Sturdivant says:

    Marriage & Family Therapy is a field dominated by white women. At the time I got kicked out of the program at Virginia Tech, there were NO black faculty in the program, no one to help or defend me and my position as a doctoral candidate with an approved prospectus and 4 publications. My then chair (white woman) quit the university amidst tremendous controversy. My next chair (white woman) authored my dismissal and submitted it to the head of the department. There are only 9 black men in the country with a Ph.D. in Marriage & Family Therapy… I was trying to be the 10th. There are NO HBCU’s in the country with even a masters let alone Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy. As bad as “we” need therapy in the black family, my dismissal represents a catastrophic failure of a system ran by white women.

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