Black College Students Demanding More Black Professors Don’t Realize ‘They Are Demanding The Impossible’

Kimbrough, president of Dillard University in New Orleans, addresses student demands for faculty diversity

This is not a quick fix. In fact, it will take generations, and those best in position to change this sad state are those black students protesting the dearth of black faculty. They should make pacts with each other to continue their studies in their fields, earn terminal degrees, and come back to teach on those campuses so the next generation has a greater diversity of faculty.


In recent weeks, America’s campuses have been on the front page. Instances of racial insensitivity and acts have caused black students primarily to protest campus climates that sometimes are hostile. The epicenter was Columbia, Missouri, but demonstrations have sprouted from coast to coast.

Among the byproducts of the protests are lists of demands by the students. They identify a number of issues they would like addressed and remedied for their overall experiences on those campuses to be not only free of harassment, but supportive of their educational pursuits. Some of the demands have called for changes in leadership, both administrators and student leaders. Some have asked for mandatory diversity training for all members of the campus community. Still others have asked for counseling and academic support targeted toward underrepresented groups on campus.

They all ask for one thing: More black faculty. There is unanimity in the belief more faculty who look like them will go a long way in solving these issues.

There is an old saying that you can’t get blood from a turnip. In the same regard, you cannot hire black faculty that do not exist.

Over the years studies have consistently presented data which indicate the number of black doctorates awarded, the standard credential required for most faculty appointments, fails to keep pace with the number of black students attending predominantly white universities. According to the 2013 report of the National Science Foundation, for all doctorates awarded, blacks, 12 percent of the population, received only 6.4 percent of Ph.Ds. Of those roughly 2,100 doctorates awarded to blacks, 515 or a quarter of them were in education.

That means, outside of education, there is approximately one new black Ph.D. per every three college campuses nationwide. Digging deeper, students will understand they are demanding the impossible. In 2013, blacks earned 252 doctorates in the biological sciences, 206 in psychology, and 172 in engineering. There were 61 in chemistry, 49 in history, and 26 in math. In foreign language and literature? Nine.

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