Category Archives: Resources

Bits and Pieces

If you get a chance, be sure to read Christine A. Stanley’s excellent essay “Coloring the Academic Landscape: Faculty of Color Breaking the Silence in Predominately White Colleges and Universities” (American Educational Research Journal. 43:4 (Winter 2006): 701-736). It’s an impressive, wide-ranging report based on a more comprehensive authoethnographic qualitative research project. It’s affirming for those who fear they alone might be facing hostility as faculty of color and useful for those who want concrete suggestions about how to develop and maintain diversity at their home institutions.

So read the whole thing. But click (in your own way), if you resemble these remarks:

I wonder if I were a White male tenured faculty member, would I have been approached like this? (African American associate professor, health and kinesiology)

As do all institutions of higher education, the university I joined reflects the majority culture. Historically excluded from the academy, minority faculty have been admitted as guests within the majority culture’s house…expected to honor their hosts’ customs without question…keep out of certain rooms…and…always be on their best behavior.(American Indian associate professor, educational leadership and policy analysis).

Told to a candidate during an interview:

“While we’d like to diversify the department, we will make an appointment on merit, and will look for the best candidate.” (African [South African] assistant professor, psychology)

While walking with another colleague of color to a faculty meeting, a colleague said in jest, “This side of the hallway sure is looking darker lately.” My colleague and I exchange[d] glances with each other. This same colleague observe[d] the noticeable exchange and trie[d] to make light of the comment. “You ladies know I was just kidding, don’t you?” (Black associate professor, higher education administration)

I remember when doing my psychology internship at a major New York hospital that my natural impulse was to talk about my being from India, and to refer to myself as an Indian….Instead, I was met with a wall of silence as if I had broken an unspoken taboo of never calling attention to your own or other people’s difference” (Indian associate professor, psychology)

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Lesson II: Contingency Faculty

The Invisible Majority: Contingency Faculty and Diversity*

It is impossible to talk about the practices and issues related to race and tenure in any meaningful way without considering how much universities rely on contingent faculty to prop up their educational missions. Women and faculty of color are disproportionally clustered in contingent positions, and the majority of tenured faculty spend at least part of their careers in contingent positions—as adjunct or part-time faculty, visiting professors, post-doctoral fellows and, of course, as teaching assistants.  A good place to start thinking seriously about the subject is by reading the 2010 report released by the Association of American University Professors.  It offers concrete examples of ways to stabilize the tenuous situation contingent faculty regularly find themselves in; it also offers startling and troubling facts (all quoted from the original report):

•  By 2007 almost 70% of faculty working at colleges and universities were off the tenure track.

•  Non-tenure track faculty and graduate students teach the majority of classes at many institutions, commonly at shockingly low rates of pay.

•  Contingent faculty frequently pay for their own computers, phones, and office supplies, and dip into their own wallets for journal subscriptions and travel to conferences to stay current in their fields.

•  At many institutions, the proportion of faculty with tenure is below 10 percent.

For more on the issue, see Confronting Contingency: Faculty Equity and the Goals of Academic Democracy.

One of its more salient arguments about the problems with current approaches to resolving the unethical treatment of contingency faculty:

4. The debates that have raged within and about higher education over vocational versus liberal education, tenure, the “corporatization” of higher education, governmental oversight and accreditation, and funding models and sources have obscured, deferred, or overridden the need for action on the fundamental ethical and practical concerns that attend the professional and personal needs of faculty on contingent appointments. Yet, ironically, attending to those concerns—ensuring a living wage, access to health care, professional development, and the protections of academic freedom—would exercise the very values of academic democracy that these debates are really all about.

* I owe an enormous debt to Karen Cardozo for educating me on the myriad issues that face contingency faculty.  She has pointed me to important books and articles that have shaped my understanding of the issue and the essay on this subject for the book.

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Lessons from the Collection I: The Missing Cohort

As I edit the stories and interviews for the collection and talk to people about their own experiences seeking tenure in the humanities, I’ve noticed patterns that I think we’d all be wise to pay attention to. I’ve been thinking of them as “Lessons from the Collection.”

Lesson I: The Missing Cohort

In story after story, in conversation after conversation I’ve heard some version of this sentiment: “I can’t believe how backwards my colleagues/department/school is/are about race.”

While I’m sure there are colleagues, departments, and schools that are astonishingly backwards about issues of race, I suspect the exceptionally advanced view that faculty of color have about the topic makes it difficult to judge what “backwards” really is; or, to put it another way, it’s all relative. Maddening and disturbing but relative.

Perhaps the most jarring part of the transition from graduate school to full-time employment is that we’ve left behind people (of all hues) who share, on a deep level, our attitudes about race, diversity, and ethnicity. The dry, gallows humor that bounced around conversations over drinks in graduate school as we coped with racism in all its forms can hit a false note with new colleagues who may or may not share our sensibilities about an issue that is more controversial than we realize.

Over the time it takes to finish the doctorate, we are drawn to people who “get it” and shy away from those whose colorblindness make them annoying or downright difficult. Our search for people who share our ideas and sensibilities about issues related to race often moves us outside of our departments and colleges. We develop a shorthand to talk about the realities of racism and our cultural quirks. Yes, we know that there are racial minefields to be navigated, but we have a built support group to help us step carefully and to comfort us when things blow up.

We choose our dissertation advisors and committee members. We attend conferences and share our work with largely sympathetic audiences. We narrow our world to those scholars, professors, and friends who reflect our worldview back to us.

And while we know that the academy is not some rainbow-colored love fest, we don’t always realize how much we’ve shaped the world to suit us. This is especially the case once we move out of our course work and can, generally speaking, choose who we spend our time with 90% of the time. We choose our dissertation advisors and committee members. We attend conferences and share our work with largely sympathetic audiences. We narrow our world to those scholars, professors, and friends who reflect our worldview back to us. When we encounter people who disagree with us, especially about our research, it can be jarring but there is still some common ground underneath that intellectual tension.

I don’t mean to portray this period as idyllic. Sexism, homophobia, and good old fashioned, universal jealousy are ever present. But we know who we know, who our friends are, who we should avoid, and where to turn when things go pearshaped.

All of that fades away when we join a department. Perhaps there are other people of color in the department, and, if you’re lucky, you can connect. But this isn’t always the case. And while you might find allies among white colleagues, it’s a long process to know who really gets it, and, in the common parlance, who will have your back. Every new faculty member has to make this transition, but there’s an added layer of personal vetting that goes both ways for faculty of color. When moments of casual racism occur, it’s not entirely clear whom we can turn to for comfort, guidance, or just a bit of a rant. Your colleagues are trying to figure out how you will move as a person of color in their professional world, and you are trying to suss out whom among your colleagues you can trust.

In some instances, we’re not only called upon to justify our specific research agendas but see our whole fields (especially those who work in ethnic studies) subject to skepticism. In practical terms, this can be the difference between courses that are required and courses that are considered electives.

I think that things are better now, perhaps. All of the ways we have of keeping in better touch with one another means that we don’t have to leave our grad school cohorts behind, but the hallways of a new department can be incredibly isolating and the stakes are unbelievably high.

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Essays and Conference Papers of Interest*

Aguirre, Adalberto Jr. “Women and Minority Faculty in the Academic Workplace: Recruitment, Retention, and Academic Culture.” Washington, D.C: ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education, 2000.

Allen, Walter R. et all. “The Black Academic: Faculty Status among African Americans in U.S. Higher Education.” The Journal of Negro Education 69.½ (2000): 112-127.

Antonio, Anthony Lising. “Faculty of Color Reconsidered: Reassessing Contributions to Scholarship.” The Journal of Higher Education 73.5 (2002): 582-602.

Baez, Benjamin.” Race-Related Service and Faculty of Color: Conceptualizing Critical Agency in Academe.” Higher Education 39.3 (2000): 363-391.

Beloney-Morrison, Tonetta. Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine: Exploring the Promotion and Tenure Process of African American Female Professors at Select Research Universities in the South. Diss. Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College, 2003.

Cornelius, Llewellyn J. et all. “The ABCs of Tenure: What All African-American Faculty Should Know.” Western Journal of Black Studies 21.3 (1997): 150-155.

Cross, Theodore and Bruce Slater. “A Short List of Colleges and Universities That Are Taking Measures to Increase Their Number of Black Faculty.” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 36 (2002): 99-103.

Fenelon, James. “Race, Research, and Tenure: Institutional Credibility and the Incorporation of African, Latino, and American Indian Faculty. Journal of Black Studies 34.1 (2003): 87-100.

Galambos, Eva C. “Racial Composition of Faculties in Public Colleges and Universities of the South.” Atlanta, GA: Southern Regional Education Board, 1979.

Gose, Ben. “The Professoriate is Increasingly Diverse, but that Didn’t Happen by Accident.” Chronicles of Higher Education 54.5 (2007): 1.

Gregory, Sheila T. “Black Faculty Women in the Academy: History, Status, and Future.” The Journal of Negro Education 70.3 (2001):124-138.

Haag, Pamela. “Is Collegiality Code for Hating Ethnic, Racial, and Female Faculty at Tenure Time?” Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review 71.1 (2005): 57-62.

Hao, Zhidong. Race and Gender Discrimination in Tenure Denial: Problems and Analysis.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. San Francisco, CA. 14 August 2004.

JBHE-Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.  “JBHE Completes Its Count of Black Students and Faculty at the Nation’s 50 Flagship State Universities.” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 51 (2006): 54-59.

JBHE-Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. No Blacks in the Pipeline: The Standard Explanation for Low Percentage of Black Faculty Continues to be Much of a red Herring, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 33 (2001): 77-78.

Johnson, Susan D., et all. “An Examination of Workload of Faculty of Color by Rank.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, November 17-19.” Philadelphia, PA, 2005.

Leap, Terry L. “Tenure, Discrimination, and African-American Faculty.” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 7 (1995): 103-105.

Nettles, Michael T and Laura W Perna. “Sex and Race Differences in Faculty Salaries, Tenure, Rank, and Productivity: Why, On Average, Do Women, African Americans, and Hispanics Have Lower Salaries, Tenure, and Rank?” Association for the Study of Higher Education 20th Annual Conference. Orlando, FL. 4 November 1995.

Niemann, Yolanda Flores and John F. Dovidio. “Tenure, Race/Ethnicity and Attitudes toward Affirmative Action: A Matter of Self-Interest?” Sociological Perspectives 41.4 (1998): 783-796.

Nunpa, Chis Mato. “Native Faculty, Higher Education, Racism, and Survival.” American Indian Quarterly 27.1/2 (2003): 349-364.

Palmer, Robert T. “The Impact of Social Capital on Promoting the Success of African American Faculty.” Dilemmas of Black Faculty at U.S. Predominately White Institutions: Issues in the Post-Multicultural Era. Ed. S. E. Moore, R. Alexander, & A. J. Lemelle. New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2010.

Smith, Daryl G. et all. “Interrupting the Usual: Successful Strategies for Hiring Diverse Faculty.” The Journal of Higher Education 75.2 (2004): 133-160.

Stanley, Christina A. “Coloring the Academic Landscape: Faculty of Color Breaking the Silence in Predominantly White Colleges and Universities.” American Educational Research Journal 43.4 (2006): 701-736.

Trower, Cathy A. “Why So Few Minority Faculty and What to Do? Diversifying the Region’s Professoriate.” Connection: The Journal of the New England Board of Higher Education 17.2 (2002): 25-27.

Turner, Caroline Sotello Viernes. “Exploring Underrepresentation: The Case of Faculty of Color in the Midwest.” Journal of Higher Education 70.1 (1999): 27-59.

Williams, Brian N. et all. “Perceptions of African American Male Junior Faculty on Promotion and Tenure: Implications for Community Building and Social Capital.” Teachers College Record 108.2 (2006): 287-315.

*This bibliography was assembled by Liam Drislane with the support of the English Department of Montclair State University.

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