Faculty of Color and Scholarship Transformed: New Arguments for Diversifying Faculty
The status of faculty of color has been of concern to many in American higher education since the 1960's. The consciousness provided by the Civil Rights movement of that decade led to efforts to diversify higher education at all levels, from the student body to the faculty ranks. In subsequent decades, we have witnessed steady growth in the racial and ethnic diversity of the college student population.
Similar diversification among college faculty, unfortunately, has not materialized. For example, in 1983 whites still composed approximately 91 percent of all full-time faculty. Ten years later the representation of white faculty decreased by just 3 percentage points, to 88 percent (see page 1).
While much research and debate has been focused on the factors that may be stifling efforts to increase minority representation among the faculty such as poor recruitment and retention efforts, the value of faculty of color to higher education has not been given a similar amount of attention. Perhaps the reasons to recruit and retain faculty of color may be so obvious that many would assume that there is little need for such research and discussion. Beyond the obvious reasons of equity, scholars also contend that faculty of color are essential because they provide students with diverse role models, help provide more effective mentoring to minority students, and are supportive of minority-related and other areas of non-traditional scholarship. I want to suggest an additional argument for increasing diversity in the faculty ranks, an argument based upon an area most central to faculty life--scholarship.
Scholarship Reconsidered: Four Views of Scholarship
In 1990, Ernest Boyer drafted a report that captured and re-focused an emerging national debate on the subject of scholarship. In Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, Boyer documents how, in the last 50 years, the notion of scholarship has become narrowly conceived in terms of basic research at the same time that the mission of American higher education continues to become more multi-faceted. Boyer argues that faculty have become disconnected from the campus community and poorly rewarded for excellent teaching. Furthermore, Boyer says, the nation will ultimately suffer if higher education does not forge stronger connections between the work of the academy and the challenges currently faced by our society.
In expanding our current conception of scholarship, Boyer (1990) proposes a set of four functions: the scholarship of discovery, the scholarship of integration, the scholarship of application, and the scholarship of teaching. The scholarship of discovery is essentially the work of basic research. The scholarship of integration recognizes the value of integrating knowledge and inquiry across disciplines. The third view of scholarship presses the scholar to move beyond the ivory tower to enlist his or her intellectual work in the service of addressing problems of society.
Finally, Boyer elevates teaching to the level of these other scholarly activities. Faculty engaged in the scholarship of teaching take time to keep current in the literature of their fields, strive for improvement and innovation in their pedagogical practices, and seek to stimulate active learning and critical thinking in their students.
Assessing the Scholarship of White Faculty and Faculty of Color
Using data from a nationally representative database developed from the 1995 Faculty Survey conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA, I examined how faculty of color and white faculty differ with respect to Boyer's four views of scholarship. My analysis is based on the responses of 33,986 full-time faculty from 384 higher education institutions across the country. I examine the data in terms of faculty work behaviors, uses of different types of pedagogy, personal goals, professional goals, and goals faculty hold for undergraduate education.
Several trends emerged in my research that shed light on the priorities of the current professoriate and the impact the diversification of faculty may have on broadening conceptions of scholarship. For example, white faculty appear to be somewhat more prolific than are faculty of color in terms of their total number of academic publications. However, compared to white faculty, faculty of color are much more likely to place a high degree of personal importance on engaging in research activities, to spend more time per week engaged in research and writing, and to feel that the opportunity to pursue research was a very important consideration in choosing a career in academe. In other words, while white faculty have produced more research as measured by traditional means, faculty of color actually appear to be more committed to the research endeavor in both their time commitment and the value they place on research.
In the area of teaching, faculty of color surpass their white colleagues by small margins in the use of three teaching techniques associated with student-centered pedagogy--student presentations, cooperative learning, and class discussions. White faculty surpass faculty of color only in their rates of using experiential learning in their courses.
The scholarship of teaching was also measured in terms of the educational goals each group holds for their students. In general, faculty of color are much more likely than are white faculty to place high importance on the affective, moral, and civic development of students. In fact, faculty of color surpass the commitment of white faculty in every one of the seven educational goals examined in this study. The largest differences are evident in the importance faculty place on emotional and moral development and on experiences outside of the classroom. Faculty of color are 30 percent more likely than are white faculty to value the emotional development of students as well as the out-of-class experience as part of their educational charge as teachers.
Faculty of color also surpass their white colleagues in each of five measures reflecting the scholarship of application. The largest difference between the two groups is in their motivation for entering the professoriate. Faculty of color are 63 percent more likely than are white faculty to pursue a position in the academy because they draw a connection between the professoriate and the ability to affect change in society. Furthermore, while majorities of both groups believe that colleges should generally be involved in solving the problems of society, the difference described with respect to career motivation suggests that faculty of color are more likely to take personal responsibility for applying their talents to the cause of social change. Faculty of color are also more than a third more likely to advise student groups involved in community service and 27 percent more likely to express the professional and personal goal of providing services to the community.
It appears, then, that faculty of color can be differentiated from white faculty in terms of their lower publication record with respect to journal articles and books, higher commitment to research activities, somewhat more frequent use of student-centered pedagogical methods, stronger support for educational goals that encompass the affective, moral, and civic development of students, and in the more explicit connection they make between the work of their profession and service to society.
Faculty of Color as Seeds of Transformation
This study suggests that there are deep, compelling reasons to renew with vigor attempts to diversify the faculty. Faculty of color are an important resource for the transformation of the professoriate and indeed, the transformation of the academy. Many agree with Boyer that a redefinition of scholarship is sorely needed for the future of education and of society, and I would argue that faculty of color can be seen as leaders in this process of transformation.
This study suggests that faculty of color provide a renewed commitment to basic inquiry and a view of the professoriate that includes a strong research orientation. In the area of teaching, faculty of color also appear to be among the stronger advocates for expanding their roles. Faculty of color stand out among faculty in their support for the psychosocial and emotional development of students.
While my study offered few results related to the scholarship of integration, ethnic studies can be seen as a model integrative field. Ethnic studies has challenged narrow conceptions of scholarship in the academy for over twenty years. Not surprisingly, over 21 percent of faculty of color have taught an ethnic studies course--three times the rate among white faculty. In this small corner of the academy, then, faculty of color can be seen as contributing to the expansion of the scholarship of integration.
Finally, this study suggests that in terms of the scholarship of application, faculty of color bring with them a view of their scholarly profession that incorporates notions of service and commitment to the community. More faculty of color than white faculty members also see their jobs in higher education as including the solving of problems in society and influencing social change.
In these ways, faculty of color bring to the academy a unique combination of values and philosophies that encompass the scholarship of discovery, teaching, and application. This combination can serve higher education as the seeds of transformation for more integrated, socially responsive educational institutions.
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