The Snail-Like Progress of Black Scholars on College and University Faculties

A new analysis published by the Pew Research Center finds that although some progress has been made in diversifying the faculty at colleges and universities in the United States, much more needs to be done.

To demonstrate this point, in 2017, 76 percent of all faculty at degree-granting postsecondary institutions were White. But only 55 percent of all students were White. Over the past two decades the percentage of non-White faculty increased from 14 percent to 24 percent while the percentage of non-White students increased from 28 percent to 45 percent.

Blacks made up 6 percent of all faculty members in 2017 but were 14 percent of all enrolled students. For Black faculty, the progress in snail-like. In 1997, Blacks made up 5 percent of all college and university faculty, compared to 6 percent 20 years later in 2017. At this rate of progress, the percentage of Blacks on the faculties of American colleges and universities would not reach parity with the percentage of Black enrollments for 160 years.

The full study, “College Faculty Have Become More Racially and Ethnically Diverse, but Remain Far Less So Than Students,” may be viewed here.

Related Articles


  1. Point well taken, it is imperative that the socioeconomic crisis that impacts Blacks in American must not be overshadowed in the Diversity and Inclusion agendas.

  2. I was a college professor for a time. What I found was that minorities were hired as tokens to during report time. We were given little to no mentoring or support. The situation would reverse itself if postsecondary institutions were truly committed to recruiting and retaining faculty of color. Sadly, that has not been the case.

    • Why do you need special mentoring or support? You have the usual professional affiliations, do you not? You know how to make friends with individuals in your field? Why are you looking for help from the university? Refer to a dictionary for the meaning of words like “resourcefulness”, “self-reliance”, and “initiative”. Avoid dependency and mendicancy.

  3. Several years ago, while on the path to a doctorate, I was told by a colleague with regard to faculty make-up, “These white men can’t live forever.” It appears she was mistaken.

  4. Over 25 years ago we formed The PhD Project which has increased “minority” business school faculty from slightly over 1% to over 4%, an increase from fewer than 400 to over 1,500. Our model is available to any academic discipline interested in attacking the under representation of faculty and the resultant impact that has on completion and performance of minority students.

  5. As a life long learner, I amassed 3 graduate degrees (two in Engineering and one in Business Administration). I am currently in the process of acquiring a DBA and have my sights on acquiring a PhD in Engineering afterwards. With these tools and my industry experience, my goal is to give back by instructing at an institution of higher learning.

    I did teach on the community college level some years ago and I realized it was an honor and a privilege to be in that position. Therefore my golden years should be special in that my tacit knowledge is hoped to be explicitly disseminated.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Two Black Scholars Appointed to Faculty Positions

The new faculty are Esther Jones at Brown University and Dagmawi Woubshet at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision is Established at Bowie State University

"The new program will help to increase the number of counselor educators within the counseling field and the number of competent Black counselor educators," says Dr. Otis Williams, chair of the Bowie State University department of counseling and psychological studies.

Elizabeth City State University Partners With the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to Increase Representation of Black Graduate...

"We are excited by this partnership with UT Health Science Center and the opportunities this brings to our students who wish to pursue advanced degrees," said Kuldeep Rawat, dean of the Elizabeth City State University School of Science, Health and Technology.

Kimberly White-Smith Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Teacher Education

“Through her leadership and scholarship, Dr. White-Smith inspires a new generation of teachers to serve students and approach their work with equity, compassion, and respect,” said Gail F. Baker, provost and senior vice president at the University of San Diego. 

Featured Jobs