Recruitment and retention for ethnic diversity in higher education: African American faculty members

Sandra Michele Cooley

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between the quality and effectiveness of plans to recruit and retain African American faculty and the number of African American faculty members employed with teacher education units in colleges and universities. In addition, relationships between the number of African American graduates, the number of African American students enrolled, and the number of African American faculty members employed in mid-southern universities were examined. There were 10 institutions which participated in this study. These institutions were in the mid-southern section of the United States, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Three of the institutions were located in Alabama; three in Louisiana, two in Mississippi, and two in Tennessee. Of the total participants, 30% were Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the remaining 70% were traditionally white colleges and universities. The efforts of institutions to recruit and retain African American faculty members are discussed and the results of these efforts are presented in detail. The Essential Elements of Recruitment and Retention for Ethnic Diversity quality indicator scale was developed and used to evaluate the individual recruitment and retention plans. The actual instrument and the validation process are presented. The findings of this study may be beneficial to institutions and individuals interested in the recruitment and retention of ethnically diverse faculty members in higher education. Results of the present study are inclusive of essential elements of productive and efficient recruitment and retention plans for ethnic diversity. Furthermore, the levels of quality of the rated plans as well as recommendations for future studies, are presented. In conclusion, the information provided in this study suggests that institutions of higher learning need to expend more effort to recruit and retain African American faculty members. Results of the study indicate that vital steps to overcome barriers to recruitment and retention of African American faculty members are consistently omitted from program plans. Low numbers of employed African American faculty are a consequence of this omission. An increase in the numbers of African American faculty members may be realized if institutions enhance the basic elements, (i.e., financial incentives, research release time, support services, and public relations) necessary for recruitment and retention.