Nearly half—42 percent—of all Black college students enrolled at predominantly white universities never have a Black professor in all four years of college, according to a startling new survey highlighted by African-American academic Boyce Watkins. Of the students who had had an African-American professor, about 75 percent had only one outside of the African-American studies department.
According to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, only 4 percent of professors in American colleges (excluding historically Black colleges) are Black, compared with 12.6 percent of undergraduate students. Blacks also made up more than 10 percent of graduate programs. The imbalance between Black professors and students results in kids hungry for guidance but faced with a dearth of Black leadership and mentoring.
“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 Watkins, who teaches finance at Syracuse University. “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.”
Exacerbating everything is that America’s highest-ranking universities are especially bad at getting Black professors into their ranks.
Of the 26 high-ranking universities that responded to [the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education] survey this year, blacks made up more than 5 percent of the total full-time faculty at only five institutions … Emory University in Atlanta has the highest percentage of black faculty at 6.8 percent.
Columbia University in New York City had the second-highest number of Black professors—a paltry 214 out of nearly 3,500.
In other words, we’re asking Black kids to strive to get into elite universities and then giving them nothing but white professors to look up to once they’re there.
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