African-American students have enough pressure on their shoulders to overcome the infamous achievement gap during their K-12 years, but it’s certainly discouraging for those students to advance to higher education and face what’s being called the ‘aspiration gap’—the discouraging reality that throughout their college years, they will hardly see any professors of color leading the classroom.
This is the focus of a recent survey conducted by YourBlackWorld.com in which it was concluded that 42 percent of all African-Americans who attended a predominantly white university never had a single black professor in college. In addition, three-quarters of those students only had one black professor in a field outside of African-American studies.
Nearly four years ago, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education found similar results from their survey of the nation’s highest-ranked universities. The Journal stated that “nationwide, just over 5 percent of all full-time faculty members at colleges and universities in the U.S. are black”, proving that not much has changed over the years. However, the Journal found that the nation’s most highly selective liberal arts colleges had a better track record at hiring black faculty. Out of 24 liberal arts colleges that responded to their survey, nine had black faculty of 5 percent or more.
So is the lack of black faculty in higher education a case of a lack of qualified candidates in the ‘academic pipeline’ as college and university administrators have suggested, or are these colleges and universities not being effective in recruiting teachers?
Whatever the case, missing professors of color is a dire situation that can have impactful consequences.
“The presence of black faculty can make all the difference in the world when it comes to helping black students clearly visualize their personal goals,” said Dr. Boyce Watkins, founder of Your Black World Coalition, in a statement. “The lack of diversity on college campuses is a serious and persistent problem, and it serves to impede the likelihood of success for our children.”