By the Journal of Blacks In Higher Education
NEW YORK - The number of black faculty at the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities is often distorted by the fact that a large percentage of the faculties at these schools are medical school faculty members who make up a majority of the total count. Even so, only two of the highest-ranking universities have a percentage of black faculty that is higher than the national average for black faculty at all institutions.
Although a great number of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges are located in rural areas of states in the Northeast or Midwest, many of these colleges have been successful in attracting significant numbers of black faculty.
Nationwide, blacks make up 5.3 percent of all full-time faculty at American colleges and universities. But a more accurate picture is obtained when we eliminate from the count the nation’s predominantly black colleges and universities. With that adjustment, our computations say that, nationwide, blacks are slightly more than 4 percent of the full-time faculty at predominantly white institutions of higher education.
The U.S. Department of Education recently published new data on the race of faculty at the nation’s colleges and universities. Here we can make a count of black faculty levels at the nation’s leading colleges and universities. The number and percentage of black faculty is an important gauge of an institution’s commitment to racial diversity. The presence of a significant number of black faculty can be a valuable tool to recruit black students. College-bound African Americans will more likely consider a particular college or university if they know there are a significant number of black faculty who can serve as mentors and advisers.
Black faculty levels at many large research universities tend to be overstated by the high number of attending black physicians at hospitals affiliated with university medical schools. At some large universities these attending physicians, who are considered medical school faculty members, number in the thousands.
With this caveat we see from the Department of Education data that there are 287 black faculty members at Columbia University, the most at any of the 30 highest-ranked universities. There are also more than 200 black faculty members at the University of Michigan and Emory University. The University of Pennsylvania is the only other of the 30 top-ranked universities to have more than 150 black faculty members.
Among the 30 highest-ranked universities, CalTech has the fewest black faculty. There are 10 blacks teaching at CalTech. But this count is a major improvement over past JBHE surveys. There are fewer than 30 black faculty members at Dartmouth College, Tufts University, the University of Notre Dame, and Rice University.
At 6.4 percent Emory University has the highest percentage of black faculty among the highest-ranked universities. Columbia University is second with blacks making up 6.3 percent of the total faculty. None of the 28 other high-ranking universities have a percentage of black faculty that is equal to the national average of 5.3 percent. At Rice University, Stanford University, MIT, and CalTech, blacks make up less than 2 percent of the total faculty.
Black Faculty at the Nation’s Highest-Ranked Liberal Arts Colleges
The number count of black faculty at the nation’s liberal arts colleges is not exaggerated by large numbers of medical school faculty as none of these colleges has a medical school.
Many of these leading colleges are located in remote rural areas far from black and urban population centers. Therefore, one would expect that these colleges on the whole would have a difficult time recruiting and holding black faculty.
But this is not the case. At more than half of the nation’s 50 highest-ranking liberal arts colleges, blacks are more than 4 percent of the total full-time faculty. And a good many of these show 5 percent or better.
Among the nation’s 30 highest-ranking liberal arts colleges, Wellesley College has the largest number of black faculty at 20. At Oberlin College and Smith College there are 19 black faculty members. Mount Holyoke College and Wesleyan University each have 18 blacks on their full-time faculties.
There is only one black faculty member at Harvey Mudd College in California. There are five or fewer black faculty at Davidson College, Colby College, Bowdoin College, Claremont McKenna College, and Scripps College.
On a percentage basis, Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia leads the way. The latest data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that the 12 black faculty members at Haverford make up 7.9 percent of the college’s total full-time faculty.
In percentage terms, Swarthmore College and Mount Holyoke College also show a strong performance. Blacks make up 6.3 percent of the total faculty at Swarthmore College and 6.1 percent of the total full-time faculty at Mount Holyoke College.
The only other high-ranking liberal arts colleges where blacks are at least 5 percent of the total faculty are Oberlin College, Bates College, Grinnell College, Wesleyan University, and Pomona College.
Liberal arts colleges where blacks are less than 2 percent of the total faculty are Bowdoin College, Claremont McKenna College, Scripps College, and Harvey Mudd College.