How the Aging of American Faculty Will Affect Racial Diversity in Academia

A new report from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) looks at the status of tenured faculty in American higher education and its implications for diversity.

The report finds that the median age in the U.S. labor force is 42 years compared to the median tenure-track faculty age of 49. There are also significantly more faculty aged 55 or older compared to the general workforce. Just 23 percent of all U.S. workers are 55 or older, compared to 37 percent of faculty.

For all tenure-track faculty, racial/ethnic minorities comprise 26 percent of those 55 or younger and just 16 percent of faculty older than 55. This appears to be due primarily to lack of promotion, according to the authors of the report.

The authors note that “younger faculty cohorts include more women and more racial/ethnic minorities, suggesting that intentional efforts of campuses to diversify their faculty may be succeeding. However, hiring diverse faculty is not enough. Institutions must retain and promote women and minorities to maintain their representation in more senior ranks. Retention and promotion efforts need to include the development, coaching, and championing of women and minorities to mitigate barriers to their success.”

The full report, The Aging of Tenure-Track Faculty in Higher Education Implications for Succession and Diversity, may be downloaded by clicking here.

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